He had been quite ill ever since early 2016, and his suffering has now been eased.
Illustrious Lonnie Melvin Tillis was raised a Master Mason on December 16, 1984 in Branson Lodge No. 587 in Branson, Missouri. He became a 32° Scottish Rite Mason in the Valley of Joplin, Missouri, in 1993, and was invested with the Rank and Decoration of Knight Commander Court of Honour in 1996. He was coroneted a 33° Scottish Rite Mason at the House of the Temple in Washington, D.C. in 1998, and on October 11th, 1999, Mel was further honored by the Scottish Rite Southern jurisdiction by being awarded the Grand Cross.
Brother Tillis suffered with a lifelong speech impediment following a childhood bout of malaria, but he deliberately incorporated the stutter into his act as his own comedic signature. His fellow country music singer friend Bill Anderson was quoted in a news story Sunday afternoon saying Tillis once told him concerning his stutter, "I had a handicap and turned it into an ass-ass-asset." The stutter disappeared when he sang, and he later commented to his lodge brothers that he was able to repeat his Masonic ritual flawlessly because he had to concentrate on it so carefully to repeat it without the stammer.
In addition to his music career, Brother Tillis appeared regularly on television shows such as “Hee Haw” and “Hollywood Squares,” and was in several movies, including “Smokey and the Bandit 2” and “Cannonball Run."
Brother Tillis is survived by his longtime partner Kathy DeMonaco, his children, Pam, Carrie April, Cindy, Mel Jr. ("Sonny"), Connie and Hannah; brother Richard; sister Linda Crosby; and six grandchildren and one great-grandson.
Funeral arrangements are unavailable at this time. Memorials will be held in Florida and Nashville.
His column is broken and his brethren mourn.
Requiescat in pace.