ALBEMARLE — Ted Lilly Jr, dubbed the Town of Oakboro’s ambassador, passed away on Oct. 19 at 66 years old, and tributes to the beloved downtown fixture continue to pour in, honoring his life and the sense of love and welcoming that he brought to anyone he encountered. Lilly was famous for walking the town two or three times a day, going into each establishment, greeting and hugging everyone he met and telling them he loved them. On social media, some in the community have even changed their social media profile pictures to a picture of Ted in his iconic yellow vest.
“We are deeply saddened by the passing of Ted,” the Town of Oakboro said in a statement. “He was always walking around town, he made friends with everyone, was a kind, gentle soul and had no enemies. He would often stop by Town Hall along with many other places in Oakboro just to check in. On his way out, he would always tell us he was going to go ‘take him a good bath & watch Dr Phil.’ He would never leave without saying ‘I love you, I love everybody.’ Ted will be missed. Our love & prayers go out to the family.”
Reuben Jones, who made an “Everyday Heroes” piece on Lilly for Spectrum News in 2019, said that Lilly’s sister told him that Lilly had died of a heart attack on Tuesday, Oct. 19 “after one of his regular walks.”
The Oakboro Police Department, who were known to have an especially close relationship with Lilly, changed their profile picture to a picture of Lilly riding in a vehicle wearing a police hat and waving. The picture was accompanied by the statement, “We will miss you friend…… RIP Ted Lilly Please keep the family and friends of Oakboro Ambassador, Ted Lilly in your thoughts and prayers.”
Oakboro Fire and Rescue also posted about Lilly’s passing, saying, “Our OFD family is saddened at the passing of the town of Oakboro’s heart and soul Ted Lilly. The streets of Oakboro will never be the same. We will truly miss him and when we meet again we will all walk those golden streets with you. Please pray for Ted’s family and our community.”
The city has organized a memorial on Saturday, Oct. 23, with a flyer that says, “Celebrating the Wonderful Life of Town of Oakboro Ambassador Theodore ‘Ted’ Lilly Jr.” The event begins at the Oakboro Fire and Rescue station, at 320 College St., with a memorial and procession to Oakboro Cemetery from 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Uwharrie Bank is organizing donations for the Lilly family’s expenses, and people are directed to stop in any branch and tell them that the funds are for Ted Lilly. The bank said, “On behalf of Uwharrie Bank we send our sincerest condolences to the Ted Lilly family and Oakboro community. You will be missed, Ted!”
Other community responses are below:
Stanly County Convention and Visitors Bureau: “I’m sure if you’ve ever visited the town of Oakboro, you probably met Mr. Ted Lilly. He never met a stranger and greeted all with a smile. You will be greatly missed by all.”
Oakboro Farmer’s Market: “Rest in peace Ted Lilly. If you are from Oakboro you know this man never goes anywhere without a smile and his Gatorade. Every Saturday he has put a smile on all of our faces at the Oakboro Farmers Market! You will be greatly missed.”
First Baptist Church of Oakboro: “Oakboro lost a great man yesterday. Ted Lilly was the kind of man who was great in the ways that matter most. He spent his life walking and loving people, and walked right into the kingdom where he is with Jesus and experiencing His amazing love firsthand. Ted will be sorely missed, but his example of loving people no matter who they were is one we can keep following. Thank you, Ted, for a life well lived.”