Cover photo for Anne L Tilly's Obituary
Anne L Tilly Profile Photo
1915 Anne 2020

Anne L Tilly

November 18, 1915 — August 12, 2020


Up until she passed away at the age 104 3/4, Anne Lindberry Petersen Tilly woke up every morning with her face toward the sunshine or rain—it didn’t matter—and exclaimed how beautiful the day was. She then got busy knitting scarves, painting greeting cards for her friends and drinking coffee.

She often wore one of the t-shirts awarded her annually from the Kitsap Public Library system for being a member of the 100-hour reading challenge. She surrounded herself with stacks of books. Every book was “the best book she had ever read”—especially if it was about dogs or romance.

Her joyful, adventurous spirit and remarkably strong life force probably came across the Atlantic with her parents, Anna and Werner Lindberry, who immigrated to this country in the early 1900s from Sweden. They settled in Bellingham, where Anne was born in 1915. She was a beauty, a champion swimmer, and a graduate of Everett High School in 1933.

She fell head over heels in love with a singer in a dance band, Bill Petersen, after one memorable performance in 1932 when he dedicated the song “My Sweet Alice Blue Gown” to her. They married soon after. In the 1950s Anne and Bill bought an apple orchard in Omak, Washington. For the next decade, Anne got up at 5 a.m. each day to milk Bessie the cow, change the irrigation lines, feed the chickens, and get her three children off to school—all before heading to her full-time job at KOMW, “The Voice of the Okanogan,” where she hosted a radio program called “What’s Doin’.”

Thanks to Anne, there were always things “doin’” in that little town. When her daughter was eight and there were no dance classes offered in all of Okanogan County, she contacted the Eric Cooper School of Dance in Seattle and they sent instructors over—one of whom stayed for the next 20 years. She helped start Bluebirds and Campfire Girls in Omak and was president of the PTA and Toastmasters.

In 1959 she and Bill bought a little cabin with no plumbing at Lake Wenatchee. Their approach to the cabin reflected their philosophy of life. They told everyone from friends to near-strangers: “Use the cabin anytime. The key is in the woodbox.” A logbook kept at the cabin over the past 60 years is testament to the number of people who took her up on the offer and enjoyed the quiet of the woods for a night or two. Anne loved the lake and explored its trails well into her 80s.

When Anne and Bill moved to Wenatchee in 1958, she went to work for KUEN Radio and then worked at the Deaconess Hospital as a Credit Manager. She cast her first vote in 1938 for Franklin Roosevelt, and remained deeply loyal to the Democratic Party until the end of her life. She served as Chair of the Chelan County Democratic Central Committee in the early 1960s and represented Henry Jackson for President at the National Democratic Convention in Florida. She also worked for a time as a Journal Clerk in the Washington State House of Representatives, where she waved to Governor Al Rosellini each morning as he made his way from the Governor’s mansion to the capitol building.

During the Wenatchee years, Anne made many special friends in the Masonic Order of Eastern Star and served as the Worthy Matron and was also Grand Deputy to the Rainbow Girls.

Her life was a series of unexpected delights—because she made them happen. In 1951, when she was living in Hungry Horse, Montana, she sent a letter to Life magazine telling them about her red-headed 12-year-old son, who was raising money to attend the Boy Scout Jamboree in Pennsylvania. The magazine ended up sending two photographers—Wallace Kirkland and Bob Kelley—to the Petersens’ tiny hand-built rustic cabin in Hungry Horse. When the next issue came out, Anne’s smiling, freckle-faced son Billy was on the cover. She remained friends with the photographers for life.

After her beloved husband Bill died in 1968, she married Vince Tilly, and they spent the next 25 years traveling and laughing together. She embraced the Tilly family and all of her new grandchildren. After Vince’s death, she worked as a receptionist and tour guide for the Washington State Apple Commission before finally retiring at the age of 92. She and her dear friend Gayle Hayes were the Senior Center Apple Blossom king and queen one year and part of the group that went to Misawa, Japan.

There were no strangers to Anne. She would strike up conversations with people she didn’t know, and soon they would be stopping by to visit her regularly. She loved the people who looked out for her at Madrona House and Messenger House on Bainbridge Island, and at Colonial Vista in Wenatchee.

Her joyful and generous spirit will be carried on through her children: Gary (and Margaret) Petersen of Richland; Vicki (and Steve) Johnson of Bainbridge Island, and stepson Earl (and Barbara) Tilly of Wenatchee and Janet (and Joe) Riggs, Ellensburg. Anne adored her grandchildren: Michele (and Jeff) Kophs; Nicole (and Robb) Barnes, Erika (and Scott) Saw; Matthew (and Monica) Johnson and Kristina (and Ben) Avery, Nels Petersen as well as her step-grandchildren: Kristen (and Bill) Jacobs, Shannon (and Craig Norton) Tilly, and Bart (and Coreen) Tilly and Joann (and Bruce) Harris, Mindy (and Jerry) Sperline, and John (and Kathy) Riggs. She doted on her many great-grandchildren.

She was preceded in death by her husband Bill Petersen, her eldest son Bill ‘Petey’ Petersen, and her second husband, Vince Tilly.

In her memory, her family asks that you plant some tulips or a tree, do a kind deed, look for the good in every person, support your local newspaper and library, register to vote, and above all, don’t take life too seriously. A celebration of life will take place when it’s safe to congregate again.

Arrangements entrusted to Cook Family Funeral Home on Bainbridge Island, WA

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