David H. Tilley, veteran, chemical firm founder

The Baltimore Sun

David H. Tilley, founder of a Baltimore chemical distribution company and a World War II veteran, died Feb. 12 of respiratory failure at Union Memorial Hospital. The West Friendship resident was 88.

Mr. Tilley was born in Baltimore and raised in Govans. He was a 1938 graduate of Loyola High School, where he was captain of the ice hockey team.

After earning a bachelor's degree in chemistry from Loyola College in 1942, he enlisted in the Navy and served in the Pacific as a gunnery officer.

Mr. Tilley went ashore with the Marines during the invasion of Saipan in 1944 and was severely wounded while directing naval gunfire from Mount Tapotchau.

"He lost his left eye," said a son, Dr. David K. Tilley of Charles Village. "While recuperating in Hawaii, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, in a wheelchair, visited him."

Mr. Tilley, who attained the rank of ensign, was decorated with the Purple Heart.

He returned to Saipan on the 50th anniversary of the battle.

"It was a joint reunion of American and Japan forces," Dr. Tilley said. "And going back there, for my father, was a highlight of his life."

After the war, Mr. Tilley worked as a chemist for his father, who owned and operated General Chemical Co. in Baltimore.

In 1952, he established Tilley Chemical Co., a Middle River-based chemical distributing company. The family-owned business is now managed by a son.

Mr. Tilley, who enjoyed thoroughbred racing, ice skating and golf, lived in Catonsville for many years before moving to West Friendship in 1988. For the past three years, he had been a resident of Keswick Multi-Care Center.

His wife of 40 years, the former Catherine M. Dailey, died in 1990.

Mr. Tilley was a communicant of the Roman Catholic Church of the Resurrection in Ellicott City.

Services were private.

Also surviving are another son, John M. Tilley of Monkton; a daughter, Janet M. Tilley of Bel Air; and six grandchildren.

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