He was beloved for his advocacy for the health of others, spending 28 years in Parsons, first as assistant administrator of the Katy Railroad Hospital, then moving to Labette County Medical Center, now Labette Health, when it was newly established in 1961. He also helped doctors there start a clinic for those who cannot afford health insurance, a project he repeated in Branson three years ago, starting the Free Medical Clinic of the Ozarks.
Parsons hosted an American Red Cross blood drive in late August in Lilley’s honor, collecting more than 140 pints of blood.
Lilley was formerly a president of the Kansas Hospital Association, chairman of the Kansas Blue Cross Board of Directors and the Parsons United Way and a member of the board of the Midwest Health Congress. He was an active member and past president of the Parsons Rotary Club. He had been a member of both First Presbyterian Church and First Baptist Church of Parsons.
But most of all, Lilley offered the gift of friendship, always devoted to support those he crossed paths with, whether in encouragement, practical godly wisdom, finances or just his bridge-building humor.
He “retired” to Branson in 1990 to officially help run the family’s Lilleys’ Landing Resort & Marina on Lake Taneycomo. But unofficially, he and his wife, Carolyn, continued their commission to live out the biblical mandate that “whatever your hands find to do, do it with all your might” (Ecclesiastes 9:10). His hands touched not only the free clinic in Branson but helped launch the Options Pregnancy Clinic in Branson, back the Torchbearer Foundation to Africa, as well as multiple ministries through missions projects at First Baptist Church.
Lilley served as a deacon at First Baptist Church in Branson and also served on the board of directors of the Branson Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce, at one time as treasurer. He also was active in the international Marketplace Ministries, which equips and staffs chaplains to serve in businesses and job sites, and was a committed former board member for Youth Horizons Ministry for youth in Wichita, directed by singer/evangelist Earnest Alexander.
Born July 25, 1935, in Sherman, Texas, as the younger son of Earnest and Eddye Badgett Lilley, he grew up in Denison, working in his father’s Lilley’s Department Store and also with a local funeral home. He attended college at the University of Texas before marrying his high school “best friend” in 1957 and starting as assistant administrator at the Katy Railroad Hospital in Denison, Texas.
Lilley is survived by his wife, Carolyn; daughter Lisa Henderson and husband, Paul, of Harrison, Ark.; son, Phil and wife, Marsha, of Branson; daughter Belinda Gardner and husband, Chuck, of Manassas, Va.; his brother Jack and wife, Elsie, of Denison; brother-in-law Mike Harvey and his wife, Karen, of Fair Hope, Ala.; sister-in-law Dana Harvey of Houston; and sister-in-law Joanna Drennan and husband, Dave, of Denison, Texas. His grandchildren are Sara (Lilley) Clark and husband Josh of Overland Park (their children Jeriah and Serenity); Megan (Lilley) Cummings and husband Jimmy of Rogers, Ark.; Levi Elsworth of Las Vegas (his daughter, Justice); Caleb Lilley and his wife Maggie of Beverly, Mass.; Greg Lilley of Branson and Ryan Titus and wife Caron of Hollister, Mo. — with two more great-grandchildren on the way.
The funeral service is at 1 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 29, at First Baptist Church in Branson with a reception following at the Life Center. Burial will be privately held later that afternoon. Greenlawn Funeral Home of Branson is in charge of arrangements.
Memorials may be made to Labette Health Foundation, South Hwy 59, Parsons, KS 67357; First Baptist Church Missions & Me, 400 Sunshine, Branson, MO 65616; the Free Medical Clinic of the Ozarks, 590 Birch Rd., Hollister, MO 65672; Marketplace Ministries, 2001 W. Plano Parkway, Suite 3200, Plano, TX 75075; or Youth Horizons, 1601 E. Douglas, Wichita, KS 67211. They may also be left at or sent to Carson-Wall Funeral Home, Box 942, Parsons, KS 67357.
Online condolences may be left at www.wallfuneralservices.com.