Irvin C. Tillman Sr. dies at age 91

Businessman had owned General Engineering Inc. and Suburban Chevrolet

August 09, 2010|By Frederick N. Rasmussen, The Baltimore Sun

Irvin Conrad Tillman Sr., a retired businessman and thoroughbred horse breeder, died Aug. 1 of heart failure at Wellington Regional Medical Center in Wellington, Fla.

The former Towson resident was 91.

Mr. Tillman, the son of a Baltimore & Ohio Railroad locomotive engineer and a homemaker, was born in Baltimore and raised on 40th Street in Hampden.

He was a 1937 graduate of Forest Park High School and earned a bachelor's degree in 1941 in electrical engineering from the Johns Hopkins University.

After working for five years at General Electric Co.'s Schenectady, N.Y., plant, he established General Engineering Inc. in 1945 on Frederick Avenue in Baltimore.

Mr. Tillman later moved the company, which specialized in the manufacture of complex mechanical components for a wide range of customers, to Long Green Pike in Glen Arm.

After selling the business to Grumman Corp. in 1969, he became the co-owner of Suburban Chevrolet on Belair Road. He retired in 1988 after selling the business and moved to Rock Hall.

Mr. Tillman purchased Rolling Mill Farm on Shawan Road in 1978 and began breeding thoroughbred racehorses.

Since 1997, he had lived in Wellington.

He was an accomplished woodworker and enjoyed growing orchids, reading and watching classic Hollywood motion pictures.

"He was a designer, tinkerer, a fixer, a builder, a problem-solver and counselor to many," said his son, Irvin Conrad Tillman Jr. of Rockville.

His wife of 39 years, the former Helen Naomi Phipps, died in 1980.

A memorial service was held Saturday.

Also surviving are his wife of two years, the former Jaci Senger; three daughters, Helen Wagner of Manchester, Susan Gillin of Baltimore and Patricia Page of Cary, N.C.; a brother, Henry Tillman of Winston-Salem, N.C.; 11 grandchildren; and 11 great-grandchildren.

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