Carmel Valley: Community mourns passing of longtime resident Scott Tillson

By Karen Billing

Staff Writer

Carmel Valley lost one of its strongest voices on May 19 with the passing of Scott Tillson, a long-time Carmel Valley resident and member of the Carmel Valley Community Planning Board. Tillson died last week following a heart attack at age 55, surrounded by his family.

Scott Tillson

Tillson is survived by his wife of 32 years, Pat, and their three children, Sarah, Katie and Michael; his parents John and Dana; and his siblings Jay and Dana, He was a dedicated father who walked his daughter Sarah down the aisle at her wedding eight months ago, was endlessly proud of his daughter Katie’s accomplishments and was a faithful fan at son Michael’s rugby and football games at Torrey Pines High School.

At a May 24 memorial service held at St. Therese of Carmel, where Tillson was a longtime member of the congregation, Katie Tillson aptly described her father as a “towering figure of knowledge.” Tillson’s long history with city council and local politics was an incredible resource for his service on the planning board, according to all who worked with him.

Tillson played a big role in last fall’s passage of Proposition C, which untied Pacific Highlands Ranch’s development from the completion of the Interstate 5/Highway 56 connectors—Tillson also served on the city and Caltrans steering committee for that project.

At planning board meetings, Tillson was one of the most quotable members on the board—always with a thoughtful, witty remark rooted in his deep knowledge of the situation at hand. As his sister Dana said at his service, he was a “keen observer, forever filling his bank” with information.

“You could ask Scott a simple question and he’d give you a three-page answer,” Dana Tillson said.

Katie Tillson said that while she may have doubts about a world without her father, she was certain that “the computers in heaven are operating better than ever and that I will always be proud to be Scott Tillson’s daughter.”

Carmel Valley community members shared memories of Scott:

Frisco White, chair of Carmel Valley Community Planning Board

There is an old expression about whether a person can fill someone else’s shoes. This expression is true for Scott. There isn’t another person than can step into Scott’s shoes and do what he did.

I first met Scott when he would participate from the audience as a concerned community resident during numerous board meetings. At first, I would dread it when I saw his hands up because it may be a long discussion. However, after a few times I came to understand that he wanted to lend a hand and offer the board sage advice and opinions. He was always willing to volunteer to help the board research, develop comments and conditions for approval of development projects. His knowledge of city politics and policies were indispensable and irreplaceable.

Even after Scott was elected to the board, I could always ask for his assistance or have him take on a project without hesitation and with enthusiasm. Quite often I would assign a task to him and before I could blink he would have the rough draft done.



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