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Obituary: James R. Tilton, Lafayette

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James R. Tilton, 86, of Lafayette, passed away May 19, 2014.

He was born July 9, 1927 in Columbus to Dr. James L. Tilton and Elizabeth Kitzinger Tilton.

He graduated from Columbus High School in 1945 and served in the Navy as a hospital corpsman for two years. He graduated from Butler University in 1951 and 1960. He was executive director of Wabash Center in Lafayette, a community center for the developmentally disabled, where he enlarged programs for both children and adults, expanded the sheltered workshop, began the residential program and provided diagnostic and consulting services for surrounding counties. At his retirement in 1990, he was named a Marquis of Lafayette by Mayor James Riehle and a Sagamore of the Wabash by Governor Evan Bayh.

He played saxophone with the Talkington dance band and clarinet in the Columbus Symphony Orchestra, the first symphony orchestra in Indiana, having been founded by his uncle, Chester Kitzinger, eight years before the Indianapolis Symphony. He traveled with the Clyde McCoy Orchestra and played in many Indianapolis dance bands, performing shows with celebrities of the day such as Les Paul and Mary Ford, Patti Page, George Gobel, the Smothers Brothers and Julius LaRosa. For twenty years he played in the Lafayette Citizens Band.

Visitation from 3 to 6 p.m. with service at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, May 27th at Hippensteel Funeral Home. Burial at Garland Brook Cemetery in Columbus, IN at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, May 28th.

In lieu of flowers, those who wish may make memorial contributions to The Columbus Symphony Orchestra, P.O. Box 1992, Columbus, IN 47902.

Hippensteel Funeral Home is entrusted with care. Share memories and condolences online at

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