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A Heart for Students: Tony Tilley

Tony Tilley, one of the College’s most beloved and colorful campus characters, has left an indelible mark on Barton. The recently retired director of food services has devoted more than three decades of his professional life to the faculty, staff, alumni, trustees, and especially the students of this campus. And, the Barton College community will be forever grateful for his commitment and devotion.   

During the administration of three Barton presidents, Tony was equally comfortable planning for and serving a business lunch for two or a Centennial Celebration Gala dinner for 500. Whether it was a Homecoming Alumni Awards Brunch, a black-tie opening for a new theatre, or a NCAA DII National Men’s Basketball Championship Celebration, he knew what food to serve and how the meal should be presented.  

While he fed thousands of students during their Barton Experience, Tony also made sure he knew them by name. He knew who had food allergies, and he knew the favorite foods of many. He made sure students were taking care of themselves, attending class, and studying for exams. He always provided a listening ear, whether students were having a bad test day, a bad break-up, or just a bad hair day. With his tie casually tossed over his shoulder, Tony conversed easily with all who came into his dining hall. And, with a smile as wide as the Mississippi and a mischievous glint in his eye, one always knew that he had a great story to tell. He never pulled punches, and often provided tough advice, but students always knew he had their best interest at heart.  

Known for his strong work ethic, his boisterous voice, his energetic personality, and his passion for Bulldog athletics, Tony Tilley was at the forefront of new activities and events on campus that became treasured campus traditions, including Welcome Back Barton Day, Lighting of the Luminaries, Exam Breakfasts, Day of Service, and tailgating events, just to name a few. If food was part of the plan, then Tony was included in the planning.  

Tony supported academic and co-curricular programming throughout his tenure, assisting faculty, staff, and students with lecture receptions, pizza parties, and myriad student-focused events. He packed thousands of brown bag lunches for student-athletes traveling to matches and games, and he was always cheering his Bulldog teams from the sidelines of both courts and fields. A dedicated advisor of Alpha Sigma Phi Fraternity, he was a devoted supporter of all the Greek programs. And, he even made several unforgettable cameo appearances in Theatre at Barton performances.  

He helped numerous students find jobs on campus and in the community, and he often hired students to work in dining services while serving as their mentor, helping them find their own footing in the professional world. As students transitioned into alumni, they remained in close touch with Tony, and when they returned to campus, they always managed find their way back to the dining hall to see their good friend. 

Tony Tilley was twice honored by Barton College. First was his induction into the Barton College Hall of Fame in 2011, one of only a few non-Barton student-athlete graduates to hold this esteemed honor. He later earned the moniker of Honorary Alumnus in 2015 by the Barton College Alumni Board at Homecoming, recognized for his significant contributions toward the advancement of Barton College goals, and his outstanding support and service to the campus community.  

Others will follow to direct the Dining Services program on Barton’s campus, but no one will ever replace the irrepressible Tony Tilley, nor would we want them to try.  

Special Note —  

Please plan to join the Barton College community in celebrating Tony Tilley’s 33 years of service. A reception to honor Tony Tilley will be held on Wednesday, March 20, 2019, in Hardy Alumni Hall, from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Anticipating a large attendance, we are asking those who are able to arrive during the appointed hours below.  

Students are encouraged to stop by to see Tony during the 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. hour.

Alumni and friends of the College are encouraged to arrive for the 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. hour.  

And, faculty and staff of the College are invited to visit with Tony during either of these times.  

In addition to honoring Tony in person, gifts to recognize his service to Barton may be made to the College’s Annual Unrestricted Fund. To make a gift, please visit give.barton.edu or send your check to:  

Barton College

Office of Institutional Advancement

P.O. Box 5000

Wilson, NC 27893