Charles Tillett Obituary

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In Memory of

Charles W. Tillett III

August 14, 1920 - October 19, 2011
Obituary

Charles W. Tillett III M.D. Charles Walter Tillett, age 91, passed away peacefully at Presbyterian Hospital in Charlotte on Wednesday, October 19, 2011. Dr. Charles was born August 14, 1920 in Charlotte to Attorney Charles W. Tillett, Jr. and Gladys Avery, a leader in the women's suffrage movement and the Democratic Party. He attended Charlotte public schools and Woodberry Forest School in Orange, VA. He graduated from the University of North Carolina, where he was a member of the wrestling team, editor of the university's yearbook ("Yackety Yack"), a member of Phi Beta Kappa, and an inductee into the Order of the Golden...
Charles W. Tillett III M.D.

Charles Walter Tillett, age 91, passed away peacefully at Presbyterian Hospital in Charlotte on Wednesday, October 19, 2011.

Dr. Charles was born August 14, 1920 in Charlotte to Attorney Charles W. Tillett, Jr. and Gladys Avery, a leader in the women's suffrage movement and the Democratic Party. He attended Charlotte public schools and Woodberry Forest School in Orange, VA. He graduated from the University of North Carolina, where he was a member of the wrestling team, editor of the university's yearbook ("Yackety Yack"), a member of Phi Beta Kappa, and an inductee into the Order of the Golden Fleece - UNC's highest honorary society. He received his medical degree from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and performed his ophthalmology residency at the Wilmer Eye Institute. While at Wilmer, he met his beloved wife, Grace Marian Montana, a fellow resident, and they married in Baltimore.

After returning to Charlotte in 1954, Dr. Charles and Dr. Grace went into private practice and opened the Tillett Eye Clinic on 7th Street, where they worked side-by-side until retiring in 1987.

In 2008, "Charles Tillett and The Lost Operation" was published in the American Journal of Ophthalmology. This piece discussed DSEK, a revolutionary and cutting-edge corneal transplant procedure that had been developed and perfected over the prior decade. It went on to detail how Dr. Charles had actually been the first person to perform and document this procedure in 1956, more than 40 years prior to its "invention". Dr. Charles gave a talk about his procedure in 2009 at the Wilmer Eye Institute's inaugural Fuchs Corneal Dystrophy Symposium, which helps ophthalmologists keep abreast of the latest DSEK developments and advances. His legacy will live on through the Charles Tillett Lecture given annually by the symposium's keynote speaker.

He was an avid golfer and came close to breaking his age when he shot a 79 at Revolution Park Golf Course at the age of 78. Committed to staying in shape, he could be seen working out on the weight equipment at the Harris Y several times a week, as recently as last month.

He was a passionate follower of local events and a frequent contributor to the Charlotte Observer's letters-to-the-editor section. A lifelong Democrat, he was proud to have never missed an election and thrilled when he had the opportunity to vote for President Obama in 2008.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Grace Montana Tillett and a sister, Gladys Tillett Coddington. Surviving are his sister, Sara Tillett Thomas of Pittsburgh, PA and three children: Charles Tillett IV (Maureen) of Wayland, MA, Avery Tillett Ke (Yan) of Southern Pines, NC, and James Tillett of Charlotte. Also surviving are five grandchildren: Elizabeth Matthews, Hannah Matthews, Lucia Ke, Charles Tillett V, and Everett Tillett.

The family will receive friends on Thursday, October 27th from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at Harry & Bryant Company, 500 Providence Road, Charlotte. A memorial service will be held on Friday, October 28th at 2:00 p.m. at Myers Park Presbyterian Church, 2501 Oxford Place, Charlotte.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Victory Vision Care - a provider of charitable eye care services in Ghana – at 7415 Coffey Creek Dr., Charlotte, NC 28273.

"Dr. Charles was always great company and a terrific conversationalist. He always showed great interest in me and a terrific memory of what was going on..." Eric Caster (Lexington, MA)

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Charlotte Observer
Charles W. Tillett III M.D. Charles Walter Tillett, age 91, passed away peacefully at Presbyterian Hospital in Charlotte on Wednesday October...

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