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The Tilford family has received 55
memories of Stephen since September 14, 2006

.: Barrett Wilson - Louisville, KY   (Thursday, September 10, 2009 07:54pm /  #55)
Unfortunately I did not receive the opportunity to meet Stephen like most of you did. However, it was a pleasure to be a small part of a dream that Stephen hadbringing a Steinway & Sons D to Georgetown College. Through spending time with Danny, Shirley and Jane Ellen as well as hearing all of the stories about Stephen, I feel connected. My thoughts are with the Tilford family.

.: Haley Conway, Jr. - Greensboro, NC   (Thursday, September 10, 2009 09:07am /  #54)
My thoughts over the past few days have centered around Stephen and the anniversary of his passing. Dr. and Mrs. Tilford, Natalie, and the boys are also in my thoughts as well on this day. Stephen was the kind of friend that one doesn't simply forget about over the passage of time. The lives that he impacted as a son, brother, husband, friend, teacher, and mentor are too numerous to count, and everyone that he influenced will remember him, always. I still remember our talks and the influence that he had on me and I always will.

.: charlie - venice fl   (Wednesday, April 1, 2009 08:57pm /  #53)
man stephan was a trickster he would pull trick on us all the tim and he is the funny guy in the family we miss him very much mostly at galinburg, tennesse love you stephan i will pray for your family for ever tell i die

.: Haley Conway Sr. - Georgetown, Ky.   (Tuesday, September 9, 2008 09:53pm /  #52)
As I sit here, on the eve of the second anniversary of Stephen's passing, I can only imagine the smile and laughter that I came to know. Talking to him every Sunday morning before church , we discussed everything that we had experienced the week before. He never once complained about his health, even when it was obvious that he was in discomfort. I feel as though I've lost a great friend as well as someone I truly admired.

.: Donald Clark - Stamping Ground   (Thursday, July 31, 2008 04:12pm /  #51)
Another year has gone by in everyone's life, those that are here. Time is certainly a mystery for the finite brain. Some moments are so long we think we will not be able to bear them, yet years pass and we wonder where they have gone. Time is a great mystery that will be revealed when we see Jesus. Many other mysteries will be revealed at that time also and we will know so much that we do not know now. Love is no easier to decipher than time, but I choose love a thousand times over. I am thankful for those that I have loved, and very thankful for those that love me. God bless Daniel's family, and the love that I have for them.

.: Donald Clark - Stamping Ground   (Friday, September 7, 2007 03:08pm /  #50)
Day to day life sometimes seems ever so slow and often is filled with many trials. Those times seem endless. But viewing time over longer periods makes one wonder how it could be possible so much has passed. The latter is how I feel about Stephen's passing. How could it have been that long ago!

Stephen had an incredible ability to endear himself to young people and communicate with them. I truly wish that he was here to talk with my daughter. His insight would, no doubt, prove invaluable to her as she progresses through this time of her life. This is yet one more reminder to me that we must appreciate all we can while we have the opportunity. When valuable, important, loving aspects of life are gone.......then they are gone. Yet one more lesson we can learn from Stephen. God bless you my friend. You are truly missed.

.: Theresa Ludden Wold - Chicago, IL   (Monday, August 6, 2007 01:09pm /  #49)
I had the pleasure of knowing Stephen at Northwestern University in 1989. I was a Graduate Voice Candidate and he was my accompanist. I just learned about his trials and ultimate passing away from his web-site. Please accept my deepest condolences. What a wonderful person Stephen was! So much fun..I remember his laugh and his beautiful playing. His obsession with Schumann and Scriabin...having to convince him that Verdi and Pucccini had their merits as well! LOL! What a sweet man, a sweet smile and a fabulous talent. To Natalie, Colin and Rhys, I am so sorry for your loss. I will miss him as well, but we will have the memories and the knowledge that he is no longer suffering and is at peace with his Lord.

.: Chasity Phelps - Morgantown, KY   (Tuesday, April 17, 2007 07:09pm /  #48)
Dr. Tildford was such a great guy. I always looked forward to piano lessons because he taught without making you feel like an idiot, but he demanded a great deal out of you as a person and a student. Lessons were also great because he is one of a rare few, who actually got my humor! We had lots of great funny conversations wilst in lesson, and in studio class. LOL you could barely get a performance out of us in studio because of all the talking and laughing. I also liked that he always had a big 8x11 family portrait sitting right on the extra piano so that everyone would see it, right when they walked in. All the time he was telling me about this great thing that Colin or Rhys had done that week, or what great work Natalie was doing with the children's choir. Sometimes we even discussed serious topics covering ethics to cool things I learned in Biology. I can say without a doubt those were my favorite classes during my years at Georgetown College. He is one of those rare people you meet who change your life and your outlook on life forever-just by knowing them.

.: Laurie - Indiana   (Saturday, April 7, 2007 08:12pm /  #47)
Rhonda and I were talking about Bradley's update...How very sweet and touching it is and Jane Ellen's update too! I miss his laugh also and his little jokes. It is still hard for me to believe he is not here with us. He was always the life of the party, so lively and fun.

.: RHONDA (TILFORD) BRIDGES - my house, Indiana   (Saturday, April 7, 2007 09:32am /  #46)
I just read Brad's update. I had forgotten that Stephen's Birthday was just 20 days before mine. It is hard to believe that he is not here on earth to celebrate his birthday. I think of him often and still can hear his voice, mostly his laugh. His laugh was so funny and special. I will miss him always. I will see him again someday and we can laugh, laugh together again.
Love to everyone, Rhonda

.: Steve parker - Owenton, Ky   (Thursday, February 1, 2007 09:14pm /  #45)
I just recently received notice from a friend of Stephen's passing. I am greatly sorrowed by the news of this great loss. I have very fond memories of him as a young boy in school as well as a young man in high school . I remember Mr Tilford with great pride sharing with me his sons latest accomplishments as he began to go to college to study music. I briefly taught Stephen In hgih school as a student teacher and i remember how he would always try to out do me in music theory class. I was very proud of him then and always rejoiced in my heart when later I heard of his great accomplishments in his professional life. The Tilford family is very special to me and I will always cherish the friendship that I have had in past years with them. I will miss Stephen very much. I was also very proud of him for his love of life and music. My prayers and condolences to his family.

.: cindy price ringer - north canton, ohio   (Saturday, January 6, 2007 11:54pm /  #44)
have not signed on for awhile, but have thought of stephen and the family soooo often. i took my oldest son to the grocery the other day and he wanted cereal with marshmallows in it...i remembered the story and knew he had to try lucky charms. i know it's goofy, but it brought a smile to my face thinking of stephen giggling about that. I must admit, i hug my boys just a little longer and milk the day just a little bit more, reminding myself that this life is only temporary. I love the song "I can only imagine" but must admit, i can't make it through, i have to turn it off to pull myself together. May the joyful memories of stephen remain with all of us. We love you.

.: Jane Ellen - Owenton, KY   (Friday, December 29, 2006 11:37pm /  #43)
Well, Daven got me an iPod for Christmas and I just loaded all of Stephen's "Notes for Stephen" music on it and I am seeing him in my mind playing....what a powerful performer! Lately....probably because it is Christmas and so many family memories center around this time of year...I have recalled so many memories of my brother. I really miss the "experience" of Stephen. If you really know him, to be with him is to "experience" him. Even in his last hours I was still able to experience him. Knowing him has given me so much joy and so many wonderful happy memories. I can honestly say that I have no regrets with Stephen and that I cannot recall a single "bad" moment with him. All I remember are happy times. That is something for which I am thankful to God. I spent so many years of my childhood with him. Many of us have special friends that we spend a lot of time with but with siblings you literally spend years with them day in and day out. I feel like in some ways I lost my best childhood playmate. In my grief, I am still smiling as I think of all the fun God allowed me to have with Stephen. Thank you God for Stephen for all that he was here and still is in my heart.

Jane Ellen

.: Donald Clark - Stamping Ground   (Monday, December 25, 2006 11:52am /  #42)
Merry Christmas and Happy birthday Jesus!
The last few hours have been spent with many family members including the very small children which seem to enjoy it most.

My younger child, Sarah, recently spent some time with Danny and Shirley at the Tilford home. It seems that Sarah is doing well at the University of Louisville School of Music pursuing her piano. Maybe I should ask the Tilfords for an official report on that subject, but as far as I can tell, she seems to be progressing well. I hope that, while she was there, Danny and Shirley were proud and had pleasant memories of teaching Sarah, mentoring her, and watching her become a fine young pianist. Sarah holds them both in the highest regard. She oftens speaks of the importance they have and have had in her life. And that makes this ole Dad thankful, because I know the fine character, gifted talents and wonderful Christian lives expressed by Danny and Shirley.

This is the time of the year to be in awe of so many aspects of life. Its a time to remember our Savior, the most wonderful gift of all. Its a time to reflect on God's wonderful plan for us that includes being united with Him, and our saved loved ones that have gone before us. Its impossible to imagine just how happy that will make us isn't it?! Well....let's just think about it. Merry merry Christmas.

.: Bev McArtor Kassis - Spring Hill, TN   (Saturday, December 23, 2006 04:39pm /  #41)
Stephen and I hung out a lot in high school. We had several classes together, singers and band. We used to goof off a lot our sophomore year when we were both in the percussion section. Also one year, we were lab partners in Mrs. Privett's science class and (as science was not my best subject,) I'd be stressing about getting the project done right, only to have Stephen pull some prank and mess it up and then do that giggle thing he always did. Don't you just love that sound? Maybe even more than his playing... And that was glorious.

.: Laurie - Indiana   (Friday, December 1, 2006 02:17pm /  #40)
I had to mention this. Bradley and Jane Ellen shared the Lucky Charms stories on here. The other day Hannah(daughter) was eating Lucky Charms. I was busy doing something...and I said,"Oh what are you eating"? She said Lucky Charms, they are magicially delicious." Well, I of course started crying and she didn't understand (not knowing the story). I was finally able to tell her and she said, "I am so sorry mom, I didn't know they were your cousin's favorite cereal." (By the way B and JE, they make a Holiday verison of Lucky Charms with snowmen, candy canes and etc. Thought you all would like to know!)

.: Amy Figg - Knoxville, TN   (Wednesday, November 22, 2006 06:45pm /  #39)
Dear Friends,

I ran across this quote and thought of Stephen, remembering so many conversations over dinner when we were both in Louisville:

Grace does not make everything all right. Grace's gift is to show us that it is right for us to live; that it is truly good, wonderful even, for us to be breathing and feeling at the same time that everything clustering around us is wholly wretched. Grace is not a ticket to Fantasy Island; Fantasy Island is dreamy fiction. Grace is not a potion to charm life to our liking; charms are magic. Grace does not cure all our cancers, transform all our kids into winners, or send us all soaring into the high skies of ... success. Grace is rather an amazing power to look earthy reality full in the face, see its sad and tragic edges, feel its cruel cuts, join in the primeval chorus against its outrageous unfairness, and yet feel in our deepest being that it is good and right for us to be alive on God's good earth. Grace is power, I say, to see life very clearly, admit it is sometimes all wrong, and still know that somehow, in the center of our lives, It is all right. This is one reason we call it amazing grace ... Grace is the one word for all that God is for us in the form of Jesus Christ.

These words by Lewis B. Smedes summarize what I have always wanted to say about grace! And my sometimes irreverent friend, Stephen, would have understood that without any words being shared. He might have teasingly called me a liberal heretic, but all in good fun!

The memories are wonderfully bittersweet; they sustain and encourage! As you, the Tilfords, gather for the first major holiday without Stephen physically present with you, please remember with me: " It is all right."

I give thanks for my amazing friend, Stephen! He is still teaching us so much...

.: Donald Clark - Stamping Ground   (Tuesday, November 14, 2006 02:49pm /  #38)
With my dauther, Sarah, so heavily involved with piano, it is impossible to not think of Stephen, Danny and Shirley often. Not that I mind!! Stephen and family visited the Minorsville area occasionally to see friends, Chris and Chuck Harrison, so fortunately I was along at times. It was interesting to relate to Stephen in that environment because he seemed so far out of his element to me. He probably wasn't out of his element at all, but I was so accustomed to seeing him attached to a piano in some form....performing....teaching. I paid particular attention to the way he expressed himself and how he related to his family. There was a softness about his tone, his mannerisms, and his demeanor that overshadowed any other characteristic to me. I probably noticed that as much as I did because so many times I have NOT been soft when I should have been. I'm sorry I did not get to know more about Stephen.....but then....we all are.

.: Glenna Metcalfe - Georgetown   (Saturday, November 11, 2006 10:36am /  #37)
I woke up this morning, and found myself just lying there in bed...thinking about Stephen and all the wonderful Tilfords. I just stayed there for a while, enjoying the silence of the house and my thoughts. I was aware several times throughout my day yesterday that it was the 2 month anniversary of Stephen's death. I know he is free, and I am confident that he is in a much better place than we are. But, being on this side of eternity. the void is here and it is real. That's why the moving pictures and sounds in our heads are so precious, for they can never be taken away. A lot of my pictures take place in the music building at Georgetown College. A lot of times I would hear him practicing and I would do the unimagineable and interrupt him (!!) to talk, or to ask about the piece. His eyes would always glisten and his voice become so animated when he would talk about the piece he was working on, playing every motive and melody for me. He returned the favor to me also, hearing me play the organ and coming in to talk about the music. There is an organ piece he played for me, "O God our Help in Ages Past" that he said he played a lot at church. It is an old arrangement, from the 50's or 60's, with a big, flamboyant flavor to it. I was able to get a copy of it soon after hearing it, and played it in church myself. I played it at Stephen's funeral. The piece will always be Stephen's to me, and I will always picture him playing it, moving his body to match the drama of the piece, turning his head to me while playing, and grinning. And hey, when Stephen grins at you, or laughs, what choice does one have but to grin back?

.: Ruth Reid Tompkins - Russell KY   (Friday, November 10, 2006 08:14pm /  #36)
Just wanted to say...I'm still here, still praying, still sad and still missing Stephen. It certainly brings peace to me that I know that he is so happy where he is. Look forward to saying hi again some day.
Tomorrow will be an exciting but bittersweet day. A year ago, my husband and I started a Classical Piano Competition in our area. We were fortunate enough to fund it and some really great people got it up and running. The best part? Stephen was the first judge (along with another pianist, Dr. Paul Taylor) for the competition. We were all thrilled with the success of the competition and looked forward to this year. We all assumed Stephen would be back to judge. God, though, had other plans. Instead, I will be adjudicating in the morning. I am honored to judge the competition and hope that I make Stephen proud. This particular event is something Stephen loved as much as I do. It will 20+ young people playing only classical repertoire. Its wonderful to see another generation fall in love with classical music.

Stephen is certainly missed here, not by just me and my family, but by alot of people who came to know and love him. I know he will be missed tomorrow. Know that I am here....

.: Jane Ellen - Owenton, KY   (Friday, November 10, 2006 08:14am /  #35)
Two months today.....in many ways it seems like forever since I have seen my brother. I think about him all the time. I miss him so much. It is interesting...when you lose someone you love so deeply...when they are a child of God you almost gain them back. In Stephen's death, even though I have lost him, I feel as if I have gained him. When I think of Stephen now, I don't think of earthly Stephen as much as I think of this perfect person now...fully whole in Christ without blemish. I smile as I think of him that way. I still can hear his laugh...it is not one you would forget. It is hard to imagine being with him "forever" in heaven because I just can't quite understand "forever." But, I know in my heart it must be great.....I can't wait.....

I love you Stephen...infinity.....


.: cindy ringer - ohio   (Thursday, October 26, 2006 10:21pm /  #34)
i think of stephen sooo often....the thing i love to remember the most is his "giggle"
I can remember in high school getting the giggles from his giggling...
how blessed to have his friendship:)
i love you guys

.: Jane Ellen - Owenton, KY   (Wednesday, October 25, 2006 03:32pm /  #33)
Hey....I had to share this funny thing that happened. If you have stayed updated from this site you know that Stephen raised chickens and spent a lot of time singing to them etc.....well, Daven and I and the kids were on our way back from vacation on Monday....I was on the phone with mom and as usual were discussing and remembering things about Stephen. Well, all of the sudden while we talked about Stephen, Daven passed a huge Tyson truck the size of a semi full of chicken cages with LIVE chickens in them. I don't know about you; but, it is not every day that I drive down the highway and see a semi truck with hundreds of live chickens on it. I had to stop talking and tell mom. We laughed and it made me think funny thoughts of Stephen. Isn't life humorous......if you're looking?

I am glad that when I am reminded of Stephen.....only a smile comes across my face.

I love you Stephen....infinity!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Jane Ellen

.: Laurie - at school/work   (Wednesday, October 25, 2006 09:25am /  #32)
I saw the update from Uncle Danny that encouraged us to read Rhonda's memory. I haven't even told her this yet, but I have a student this year who looks very much like a young Stephen. It is bittersweet to see him everyday. While it is a nice reminder it also stings my heart a little to know that Stephen is not with us as an earthly presence. Then...I remember Stephen is in a glorious place in heaven where there is no pain, sadness and heartache and so I smile again! I miss him very much. His memories live on forever though!

.: RHONDA - my house   (Sunday, October 22, 2006 08:23pm /  #31)
This really is not a memory. I and my family did a breast cancer walk in Lousiville this afternoon. We walked 3 miles around downtown Louisville and it was a great day to walk and we enjoyed it so much. We went to get something to eat afterwards. Our waiter whose name was Davey..... was so sweet and ask about the walk and ect. He looked so much like Stephen ( in his younger years) and sounded so much like him it was spooky. We just loved him. It was like having a little of Stephen back for a brief visit. You never know how God gives you a glimpse of those you Love and miss.
Love ya guys, I think of all of you so often.

.: Donald Clark - Stamping Ground   (Thursday, October 19, 2006 10:15am /  #30)
Jesus said the greatest commandment was "love the Lord your God with all you heart mind and soul" (paraphrasing). I suppose that is fairly straightforward isn't it. Jesus was telling us that God wants us to love Him and love Him in such a way that we honor Him greatly. I believe that the reason we are here on this earth, is to spend each day preparing ourselves to be more of what God wants us to be, by the time we leave. It would seem that the most important aspect for us to learn, is to LOVE in the way God wants us to love. Love, not unlike music, is a very, if not the most, challenging concept to describe or explain. Certainly Stephen has taught his family, dear friends, and others, to love one another in a truer, better, more honoring way. And, in turn, taught us to love the Lord closer to the way HE wants us to love Him. Now I would say that is something very wonderful!

.: Jane Ellen - Owenton, KY   (Tuesday, October 17, 2006 05:28pm /  #29)
I wanted to echo what Bradley said a few "memories" ago. Stephen did used to sing to his chickens but he also sang opera at the top of his lungs when he would mow the grass of that mini-farm. Did he actually think that because he couldn't hear himself that no one else could hear him either??? HA!!!

.: Jane Ellen - Owenton, KY   (Tuesday, October 17, 2006 05:20pm /  #28)
Hi....I haven't written on here in so long. I think about Stephen all the time. Every time I think of him, I feel like I can hear his laugh. I remember so much about Stephen. One thing that I would like to share is that Stephen and Bradley had this big tree house and one day they decided to pull their little sister up into the tree house (which Stephen fell out of twice) in a cardboard box with rope. They also pulled our collie dog up in the box as well. Stephen also used to sit in our "red" chair and comb barbie doll's hair....he liked to play with barbie's with me. He also liked my doll house, which Molly Grace now has. He used to make wall art and plant hangers out of tiny rope. Oh, and I have to tell you that one time Stephen locked me in the snake cage that I believe that Papaw Tilford made (I could be wrong on that one). Fortunately, there was not a snake inside at that time. He was slightly mean to his little sister....I have to admit that I would welcome his mean-ness right now if it meant having him here and healthy. Of course, I know that Stephen is with the Lord and he really could care less about all this right now. He is seeing Jesus face to face.....isn't that amazing??? I love my Stephen infinity and though I can't see him here on earth like I used to, I know that I WILL see him again in Heaven and we will laugh and sing and smile all the time together and that will be so wonderful.

If you are reading this, I want to thank you for still taking the time to check on our family even though Stephen has been away from us for five weeks and two days. You are special and we appreciate your thoughts and still covet your prayers of peace and comfort for all of us Tilford's. (and Watkins')

We love you!!!!

Jane Ellen (tootz, as Stephen used to call me)

.: Donald Clark - Stamping Ground   (Wednesday, October 11, 2006 11:02am /  #27)
I attended a concert of Stephen's at, I believe, John L. Hill Chapel some time back. His performance was, of course, remarkable and awe inspiring especially to those who have an understanding of the study of piano. But anyone and everyone could always thoroughly enjoy his music regardless of background. On a lighter note, no pun intended, there was a little annoyance at that concert that was somewhat humorous. The sustain pedal starting squeaking and continued to squeak throughout an entire piece. Danny to the rescue appeared with some oil and crawled under the keys to silence the totally unwanted addition to each rendition. The noise would stop for only a few presses of the pedal and back it would appear like some cricket hiding in a dark corner of the basement. Again, Danny was under the piano, diligently looking for surfaces that had not yet received lubrication. Despite the efforts of both Danny and Stephen, the squeak wouldn't give up. It became somewhat of a lighthearted release for the crowd as they chuckled ever-so-quietly at the failed efforts to stop the squeak. The performance was wonderful despite the squeak.

I just listened to Stephen perfrom Etude in A Flat Major Opus 36. Extraordinary was one of the words that filled my thoughts. As I allowed myself to completely disappear into this remarkable achievement, it came to me how diverse, complicated, multi-dimensional that music truly is. There is so much emotion, so much interpretation, so much of life itself involved with music. The very essence of music is unexplainable and remarkable, very much like Stephen.

.: Laurie - Indiana   (Tuesday, October 10, 2006 08:59pm /  #26)
I hadn't checked the website in a few days,but Stephen has been on my mind. I saw the memory Rhonda listed and that was a fun time. There are so many memories of those summer and Christmas get-togethers. We were all so lucky to have him for the years that we did. He was always the life of the party, smiling, joking, teasing...we knew he was special then. I hope he knew how special he was to all of us.

.: RHONDA - my house   (Monday, October 9, 2006 09:11am /  #25)
I remember at one of our summer get togethers, Stephen took Laurie and I out for a drive around Georgetown and we went to a place and got an Hawaiian ice. We sat there and talked for awhile. Then we drove around some more and he showed us all the sites to see in Georgetown. He was so cute, driving his older cousins around. I think he wanted to show off a little with us. We had so much fun with him. I am so glad I have all these memories of him and what a great guy he was.

.: Bradley - Atlanta, GA   (Monday, October 9, 2006 07:19am /  #24)
In the early years of middle school and high school, we were lucky enough to be able to live on a mini farm that had an old worn down barn. Inside that barn we raised chickens, rabbits, a few cows and a pony. Stephen is the one that had the chickens - dozens of them. In the dead of winter, he would bundle up, get his egg basket, and walk the few hundred feet out to the barn. A short while later, he would head back to the house with a basket full of eggs - farm fresh eggs. He had more eggs than he knew what to do with. In fact, he would even sell some of his eggs for 75 cents/dozen to neighbors. No one could figure out how these chickens could be laying so many eggs. We learned later that Stephen had a little trick...he would sing to his chickens. He felt that this encouraged them to lay more eggs - we all think he was right. Stephen, being the true country boy, even participated in bringing one of his chickens in for dinner one night - yes, we ate one of his chickens. However, after Mom plucked the feathers off that chicken, she said it would be Kroger chickens from then on. I don't remember whatever happened to all of Stephen's chickens, but they provided great memories for all of us. It is nice to know and remember that inside that person we knew as a doctor, professor, father and friend - there was a little country boy too.

.: Sue Gilbreath - Georgetown, KY   (Friday, October 6, 2006 10:59pm /  #23)
Years ago Jerry and I were Stephen's Sunday School teachers during his senior year of high school. We were having a program at church where Stephen was in the back row up against the alter railing. All of a sudden Stephen was gone. He had leaned back too far and fell over the railing backwards. He gained his composure much faster than most of us who were left laughing not at him but with him. God truly blessed us when HE called us to teach and to get to know Stephen. When we think of Stephen it always brings a smile to our faces and warmth to our hearts. Blessing, Sue

.: MICHELLE SAILORS - SADIEVILLE, KY   (Friday, October 6, 2006 02:38pm /  #22)
We knew Stephen through the Scott County Children's chorus. My daughter has truly enjoyed all the time that she has been in the chorus. She especially thought a lot of Mr. Tilford, even though she was only around him for a short while. She would always comment on how nice or funny he was. I have been truly amazed at Natalie's strength to carry on the chorus and I know that Stephen will be at our winter concert and will be watching from his home in heaven. I cannot thank he and Natalie enough gor bringing about this wonderful opportunity for young people to sing. I have found myself thinking about Stephen and Natalie almost daily and how blessed we were to get to know him for the short time that we did. I pray that Natalie will continue on with us in the chorus and I know that she still carries Stephen with her and that he will always watch over her and this and her faith in our lord will carry her through. Thank you so much Natalie for continuing on---Thank you sooo much!!!
Michelle Sailors and Mallory

.: Rod Guerdan - Georgetown, KY   (Friday, October 6, 2006 12:07pm /  #21)
On 1/27/05, I had serious troubles with my heart which put me in the hospital for some time & then a long & on-going recovery period. Stephen & I were both on the church prayer list. We often shared our status in brief encounters at church. Stephen always made me feel he was genuinely concerned over my progress, while telling me he himself was OK. His spirit was & is an inspiration. Being able to tell you of this leaves me with a special feeling. This web site has kept us in touch while we were in Canada celebrating the life of Carol`s father. Thank you for keeping us in the loop.

.: Mari Yoshida - Japan   (Wednesday, October 4, 2006 12:54pm /  #20)
Mari Yoshida (May I say as a Japanese sister?)

Think of Stephen, he was so funny brother. When I was home staying at The Tilfordfs house during the Summer Holiday and Christmas Holiday, I remember him teasing me and joking around many times, but also he was very kind and made me comfortable as be a part of the Tilford family. He loved the Japanese food a lot most in the family and made me happy, too.

When I went to his recital and saw him, he was not a funny brother. He was greatest pianist and greatest performer that I remember.

How could I know that I donft have any chance to see him again in the earth? But I believe, someday we will see each other in Godfs kingdom. I miss Stephen, American brother.

.: Caleb Ritchie - Corinth, KY   (Tuesday, October 3, 2006 05:56pm /  #19)
I never really knew what to expect from piano lessons.

Dr. Tilford (Always known to me as 'Mr. Tilford', until I found out how egrecious it was to call him that) was a character. He would tell me to start a piece, while working on another one with me, and two weeks later, be surprised that I played it.

"Oh, did I tell you to start it already?"

He would look at the notebook where he was supposed to keep record about what happned in the lessons, for his sake as much as mine, only to find that he hadn't written in it for two months.

I remember learning 'Arabeske' by Schumann, and him asking me,

"You do know about Schumann, don't you?"

"No." I replied.

"Schumann was Coo coo."


"He was crazy. A lot of people think it was mercury poisoning. He married a twelve year old girl, Clara..."

He was always so quick to applaud me for fixing a problem, only to quickly tell me how little he appreciated repeating himself when I didn't.

I usually never had to see that side of him much, although he did have to sit me down (At the couch in his office, as opposed to the piano bench), and tell me exactly how much money he was being paid to teach me.

And how some teachers kick students out of their class in college if they do not fix the problem they were supposed too.

A couple weeks later, and grinned and told me about how he kicked his first kid out of class for not fixing a problem. It was so funny seeing him that... Devious. LOL

I remember him sitting me down, after weeks of helping me get into GSA, and telling me about how there could be a paradigm shift in it for me once I left GSA... How others may not see music as a gift to be used for God, as we did.

He also told me that If I absolutely needed to experiment, to go with the achohol, since you never know what fillers are in the drugs. LOL

I remember him 'going to the bathroom', only to watch me play a piece when he thought that I thought that he wasn't there... I knew he was at the door though, so I hit as many wrong notes as could be feasible.

Anyway, It was an honor and a priveledge to work with Dr Tilford.... And I certainly enjoyed my lessons with "Mr. Tilford'. I do think that I took my time with him for granted, But I do know that I'll never forget him... Short of a mental disease, or senality. But, than those, I'll always remember him.

.: Amy Figg - Home   (Monday, October 2, 2006 08:53am /  #18)
The following was an email from Amy Figg, a long time friend of Stephen and his family. Amy has given us permission to include it on the website.

Dear Danny and Shirley,

I had an unusual experience in the early morning hours on Wednesday; and while it is a source of great comfort, I felt it was personal enough that it warranted an e-mail to you. Pehaps I will find more public words for the experience in the future.
As I was sleeping, I had a dream in which Stephen and I were standing in the center aisle of the Immanuel Baptist Church sanctuary, just talking. He was healthy and oh so Stephen...dressed in his uniform. I got the impression he was headed to the grand piano I remember in the sanctuary. And while I can't remember the content of our conversation, I remember--and celebrate--the tone. It felt like one of those amazing conversations we shared so often, complete with lots of laughter and a good bit of irreverence!. Oh, what a gift to experience that again and to wake with a hope that will carry us from this life to the next. It really transcends words, and moves straight to the heart where Stephen lives on!
There is a wonderful illustration I often shared with folks, and each time, I thought of Stephen. Early on, it made me think of him as a musician, sharing his God-given gift with the world. As he negotiated his illness and turned toward home, it made me think of him as a son, a brother, a husband, and a father, always pointing to the God who sustained him with grace for the journey. I thought I would share it with you...it speaks of the redemptive hope that is ours through the love of a Father:


Wishing to encourage her young son's progress on the piano, a mother took her boy to a Paderewski concert. After they were seated, the mother spotted a friend in the audience and walked down the aisle to greet her. Seizing the opportunity to explore the wonders of the concert hall, the little boy rose and eventually explored his way through a door marked "NO ADMITTANCE."
When the houselights dimmed and the concert was about to begin, the mother returned to her seat and discovered that the child was missing. Suddenly, the curtains parted and spotlights focused on the impressive Steinway on stage. In horror, the mother saw her little boy sitting at the keyboard, innocently picking out "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star".
At that moment, the great piano master made his entrance, quickly moved to the piano, and whispered in the boy's ear, "Don't quit. Keep playing." Then leaning over,
Paderewski reached down with his left hand and began filling in a bass part. Soon his right arm reached around to the other side of the child and he added a running obbligato. Together, the old master and the young novice transformed a frightening situation into a wonderfully creative experience. And the audience was mesmerized.

Whatever our situation in life and history--however outrageous, however desperate, whatever dry spell of the spirit, whatever dark night of the soul-- The Divine is whispering deep within our beings, "Don't quit. Keep playing. You are not alone. Together we will transform the broken patterns into a masterwork of my creative art. Together, we will mesmerize the world with our song of peace and hope and love."

Thank you for sharing Stephen with the world... I am richer, having known and loved him!

Peace and Love,

.: RHONDA - my house   (Saturday, September 30, 2006 07:17pm /  #17)

Your Fig Newton story cracked me up. I remembered Stephen doing that bit. He was so funny. Laurie and I used to do the same bit at home with each other. We were never as good or funny as Stephen at doing it. I can still hear him and see him dancing and singing. He was a hoot. ("Here is the tricky part"). That was the best part.

Love ya, Rhonda

.: Donald Clark - Stamping Ground, KY   (Thursday, September 28, 2006 09:25pm /  #16)
My daughter, Sarah, is now a freshman at the University of Louisville. She was accepted by the school of music and is studying.............what else, piano performance. (sigh) As a student of both Danny and Shirley, she perhaps inherited some of the same mettle that made Stephen so extraordinary. Sarah is certainly a very gifted pianist, and if she applies herself, it will be very interesting to see what transpires. The fact that Sarah has some common background with Stephen makes me very proud. Who knows, maybe Danny, Shirley or Natalie might even see a little of Stephen in her sometime in the future. Now that would be just fine with me.

.: Bradley - Atlanta   (Thursday, September 28, 2006 05:23pm /  #15)
One of Stephen's favorite TV commercials growing up was the TV commercial for Fig Newton cookies that featured a man dressed up in a giant fig costume who performed a jingle called The Big Fig Newton. He would dance and sing the words Chewy, chewy, rich, and gooey in- side . . . Golden, flaky, tender, cakey outside. At the same time, he performed a goofy, vaguely Egyptian-type dance, and then, after a few more product-endorsing verses, would wrap up his corporate caperings by saying Here comes the tricky part, whereupon he would stand on one leg and grandly sing, The Big . . . Fig . . . New-tonnnnnnn!

FYI - Stephen could sing and dance this perfectly!!! We would all laugh for hours.

.: Bradley - Atlanta   (Thursday, September 28, 2006 02:45pm /  #14)
There were a few times in the early years when we almost lost Stephen. I remember when he was three years old, he chocked on a lifesaver candy...and Dad had him outside in the back yard holding him by his feet upside down trying to dislodge that thing...it came out. Then I remember when Stephen was in middle school (or high school) falling out of our tree house (very high) and landing on his back knocking the breath out of him. He somehow made it up to the house (maybe Dad carried him, don't recall) and rested on the patio chair recovering. Then Stephen and Natalie were held up at gun point (Natalie's brother John told a little this story at the funeral). And somehow he managed to survive having me as an older brother - now that is a miracle in itself. Selfishly I wish that his recent episode was simply something that was just a close call...or a brush with death (if you will). I miss him terribly.

.: Dad - Home   (Thursday, September 28, 2006 07:21am /  #13)
Hopefully you all can keep the memories of Stephen coming forward. There is so much to know and learn about him. Basil said "We feed on our past and Stephen was a feast."

.: Donald Clark - Stamping Ground   (Tuesday, September 26, 2006 05:39pm /  #12)
My son Lewis, now 25 years old and married, was taught piano at one time by Stephen. Sometimes Lewis would tell me that he and Stephen "just talked" and didn't really do a lot of piano training at a particular lesson. At first I wasn't sure that suited me too much. But I soon learned that the valuable time they shared together meant more to Lewis than he could express. Stephen, it seems, has always possessed a very empathic quality about him that touched people deeply. Even back then, he was sharing things with my son that were very important. Many times we take for granted so much of what is shared by people. Stephen has made me much more aware of those things, and I am very thankful to him for that.

.: Edna Jones Bird - Lawrenceburg, Kentucky   (Tuesday, September 26, 2006 09:46am /  #11)
During the Christmas season of 1978 when I was a freshman at Georgetown College, Danny invited all of his piano students to his home for a Christmas party. Danny and Shirley's home was very beautifully decorated and they had prepared so much delicious food. During the evening, each student took turns playing the piano. After we had all played, Danny asked Stephen to play for us. Stephen was in 7th grade and I thought it would be "cute" for him to play. I can still remember the absolute shock on everyone's face as Stephen began to play the piano and we realized he could "out play" any of us college students. From that moment, I knew that Stephen was very blessed musically and I continued to admire him over the years and his many accomplishments. I know that our loved ones are now enjoying Stephen's wonderful music and loving personality. Stephen will also continue to live through my life and the lives of so many others.

.: Gretchen Ziegenhals - georgetown   (Tuesday, September 26, 2006 09:21am /  #10)
Two memories: First, several years ago we had Stephen and Natalie at our home, along with several other young couples from the college faculty, for a Valentine's supper. Each couple told how they had met, and I remember being struck by Stephen and Natalie's story. When Stephen heard Natalie's voice on his message machine for the first time, he said, "I knew that was the woman I was going to marry!" How lucky and wonderful to have shared that kind of love - romantic, God-ordained, and true!

I want to share one more memory, really just a picture of Stephen I will carry in my head for a long time. After Stepen's first bout of cancer, he came one night to accompany a SCCC rehearsal. Though not feeling great, he patted the seat next to him on the piano bench, and Colin slipped up happily to sit next to his dad. While Stephen played for the choir, I watched Colin, so content to just be next to his father, watching and absorbing as Stephen did something he loved so well.

.: Melissa Sams-Thorn - Stamping Ground   (Monday, September 25, 2006 05:07pm /  #9)
I have such wonderful memories of Stephen from high school. I was in singers with him and he was always so quiet, but had that contagious grin on his face all the time. He was so funny and sweet, but got so serious when he would play the piano for Mrs Williams. I can still see him sitting at the piano during a singers concert, in his argyle sweater, button down and khakis, playing such beautiful music. I was in awe of how wonderfully he played that instrument. I consider myself truly blessed to have known Stephen and to have been touched by his music. What a blessing he was and still is.

.: Ellen - Georgetown College   (Sunday, September 24, 2006 01:55pm /  #8)
Stephen and I came to Georgetown about the same time and somehow often found ourselves side by side at some meeting or function. Stephen had little patience with stuffiness or pomposity, but it never seemed to express itself in anger. Rather, his wit would prick the balloon and we would end up giggling through what had seemed to be an insufferable waste of time. I always looked forward to seeing him or talking to him because he was such a positive spirit. That sunshine smile and laser wit would lift my mood every time.

.: Daniel Tilford (Dad) - Home   (Saturday, September 16, 2006 07:51am /  #7)
We shall forever remember how family and friends have rallied behind us as we travelled this long journey. We could not have done it alone. It has been an inspiration to feel and witness spiritual growth in ourselves and in so many of you. All that has taken place has a reason in God's overall plan. May we honor Stephen's memory by moving on, not forgetting, but living Christ-like in all things. Great is the Lord!

.: annie - georgetown, ky   (Friday, September 15, 2006 02:52pm /  #6)
when Minister Sam asked for memories from the congregation, immediately 3 snapshots flashed in my mind ...

the first was a phone message that blew me away, which i saved over and over for as long as i could, because it was so precious ... it was Stephen's voice on the other end of our answering machine very shortly after his first surgery, letting me know he was thinking of me regarding a recent health problem i had experienced and wanting to know how i was doing ........................................................

the second snapshot was of a delectable evening Sonny and i spent with Natalie and Stephen in their home the Christmas before Colin was born. The evening was a blessing from start to finish, but i remember in particular admiring the absolutely fabulous window treatment in the living room, so unique and rich in color, fabric and design, i just had to pry, "Natalie and Stephen, who did your gorgeous window?" Very casually Stephen answered, "me." i was dumbfounded ... you mean you sewed them on a sewing machine ... yes, he made the pattern and sewed them!!! throughout the evening, i just kept coming back to that, incredulous, i couldn't process how one could just up and do such a thing!!! having myself often fallen victim to knotted bobbins, snapped threads, irregular tension, misguided seams and wasted attempts, it was inconceivable to me that someone could just envision such an ambitious project and complete it so beautifully, without extensive training at least, for goodness sake! But Stephen was so casual about his accomplishment, making light of his frustration at some point in the process, but all-in-all, just no biggie. i was truly amazed. That was just a momentary window into how his talent and creativity were a multi-layered gifting with diverse expressions.

The third snapshot that flashed before my eyes as i sat in the Hill Chapel on September 12 was the clearest remembrance of sitting in that very auditorium to hear Stephen play. I remember being so enraptured and not wanting it to be over. Now i await with anticipation the bittersweet joy of sitting in the auditorium one day soon to hear Danny play The Stephen Ray Tilford Memorial Organ. That will be a moment we will all cherish, until we hear Stephen's glorified playing, Lord willing, in a concert that will never have to end.

.: Sara Robinson - Somerset, KY   (Friday, September 15, 2006 02:07pm /  #5)
I remember being terrified that Stephen was coming to Georgetown to assume the position of piano professor following his dad. Stories had been painted in my mind for years of a serious concert pianist. I knew he wouldn't let me get by with the antics I had fed his parents for the past 11 yearsof piano lessons. I spent the last part of my juionr year sick at my stomach thinking of my senior year, with Stephen Tilford.

I met Stephen the first day of classes and my first day of private piano instruction with him. I had three hours of piano this semester, which meant I spent THREE HOURS a week privately with him. It was either going to be really good or REALLY bad! I don't think I played a note during my first lesson. We talked, we laughed at stories of his family, and began to get to know one another. I left knowing it wasn't going to be all bad.

We spent the rest of the year with the same lesson structure - too much talking and not enough piano playing. At the end of my lessons Stephen would always tell me "Make sure to practice plenty. I know you'll do fine." We had to make-up many lessons due to our laughing and talking through our times together.

I remember hearing about Natalie and learning about their relationship. Stephen would tell me how they were the best of friends and how they shared the same passions. I remember hearing about their faith and love for each other, but more importantly Jesus Christ. Stephen and Natalie modeled a relationship in front of me that I longed to have later in life.

I'm going to miss Stephen. With my moving away and both of us having children of our own, we didn't stay in touch well the past five years. However, Stephen will always hold a fondness in my heart for the times we shared together and the ways he invested in my life as a college student.

.: Amy King - Houston   (Friday, September 15, 2006 10:24am /  #4)
I remember with fondness and admiration that Stephen played Chopin's Harp Etude on our Steinway soon after we received it. He inspired me to learn that piece, although I don't expect to ever play it with the beauty with which he played it. He could make that melody sing, and it looked so, so easy. I also remember that 13 years ago I inherited his young piano students as he left for Tallahassee; this was God's hand in helping me start my own studio.

My favorite memories of Stephen are the times when he was present as my family gathered around Danny & Shirley's dining table. He added another dimension to our visits, and I remember so vividly his wonderful and quirky sense of humor, his wit, and that great laugh. I am thankful to have known him, and will always be blessed by his story.

.: Laurie - Indiana   (Thursday, September 14, 2006 03:02pm /  #3)
I have so many memories....Get togethers out in the country and hanging out in that old barn...trips to King's Island where Stephen and I rode all the "wienie" rides while sister Rhonda and cousin Bradley rode all the rollercoasters. I remember Stephen always playing the piano at the Christmas get-togethers. He was always smiling, laughing, teasing, joking. It was a an honor to know him and be related to him.
Laurie Merk

.: RHONDA BRIDGES - My house, Indiana   (Thursday, September 14, 2006 02:30pm /  #2)
My memories of my cousin Stephen are when he was little. He was a few years younger than, Brad, Laurie and I. He would always have to get ready bed at some of our get togethers. He would get upset and wonder why we did not have to do this like him. He was always so cute and sweet and gentle. I of course will always remember our King's Island trips. He and Laurie liked the slow gentle rides, while Brad and I went on all the scary ones. But we always hung out together at every get together and talked about what all of us were doing.
While he was going to U of L he and I got closer as adults. I was cutting hair in a salon not to far from where he was and he would come over and see me and let me cut his hair. We talked about everything, his school and my family(husband and Kids etc.)
I have and always will be so fond of Stephen. He was and is so special and talented and inteligent. I was so proud of him and all that he did in his life.
He was so funny for me to think of him as Dr. Stephen Tilford. For me he will always be my sweet, sweet little cousin Stephen. I will always have a place for him in my heart.

Rhonda Bridges

.: Bradley - Atlanta   (Thursday, September 14, 2006 11:27am /  #1)
This past Saturday on Sept 9th, Stephen was asking for Lucky Charms cereal. Natalie called to tell me, so Dad and I went to Kroger and picked up a box. We took it back to Stephen's house and walked into his room. He saw the box and said..."Ahhh, Lucky Charms". So then Mom went into Natalie's kitchen and prepared a little bowl with milk for him. As he finished the first BIG bite, I said to him..."They are magically delicious you know"...and he said "Yes, I know". (In other words I had just insulted his intelligence - ha!) After a few bites, he slowly scooped the cereal out of the bowl onto a napkin so all that was left in the bowl was sugar milk. He wanted to drink the milk. He never did. On Sunday morning after Stephen had passed away, Jane-Ellen and I had a bowl of Lucky Charms for breakfast. Susan has decided that we will always have Lucky Charms in our pantry.