Michael Dale Tillay
July 18, 1955 — Jan. 23, 2020
Mike Tillay, long time Walla Walla inventor and businessman, died at home on January 23, 2020, age 64, after an eight month battle with kidney cancer. Mike was born on July 18, 1955, in Walla Walla, to Dale and Mary Lou Tillay. He lived his whole life in Walla Walla, attending both Walla Walla Valley Academy and Walla Walla College. In 1973 Mike invented Grab On Grips -- at that time a revolutionary type of handlebar grip for bicycles, motorcycles, other sports equipment, tools, pens/pencils, etc. With Zane Seely as director of sales they launched a business that continues still today. Mike was involved in this business for over 40 years. In 1981, he met and married Colleen Walde and together they began the joy of having and raising two children, Jenny and Jon.
Mike’s job involved a lot of travel and he enjoyed making new friends and sharing his faith of a personal Saviour. Mike’s frequent business/sales trips to China began to take on a more personal appeal as he began to know owners and workers in the factories he visited. Many of the workers he met desired the kind of peace and inner joy that they saw in Mike. As Mike was in the midst of his cancer fight this summer, the first place to which he wanted to return was China. Not for business, but to share the good news of the Gospel.
Mike was active in his local church, ASI, Rotary, the YMCA, and Ritter Hot Springs, among other pursuits. For the past 6 years he spent his summers at Ritter wearing the hats of mayor, caretaker, custodian, guide and story teller around the fire at night. People came for the hot water of this unique ghost town but also to see Mike. His desire was for Ritter to be a safe haven for people battered by the demands of everyday life, and if interest was shown, he would talk about his friend, Jesus, whose “yoke is easy and His burden is light.”
Mike is preceded in death by his father, Dale Tillay, in 1974. He is survived by his wife of 39 years, Colleen; sister, Debbi Short; sister, Tammy Tillay Seidel; daughter, Jenny Tillay; son, Jon Tillay and one beloved grandchild, Penelopi.
Mike Tillay’s Memorial Service is Saturday, February 15; 4:00 p.m. at College Place Village SDA Church located at 12th and Larch.