LeRoy W. Tillman Jr., 54

LeRoy W. Tillman Jr., media spokesman and veteran AP journalist, dies

By Hamil R. Harris
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, February 24, 2010

LeRoy W. Tillman Jr., 54, a media spokesman and veteran news reporter and editor for the Associated Press, who had a passion for District politics and breaking news, died Feb. 17 at his home in the District. He had a heart ailment.

From 1985 to 1998, when Mr. Tillman was assigned to the metro desk in the Washington bureau of AP, he chronicled some of the biggest stories in the District, including the political death and resurrection of Mayor Marion Barry, the tenure of Mayor Sharon Pratt Kelly and such breaking news stories as the death of University of Maryland basketball star Len Bias.

Mr. Tillman had hundreds of bylines during his career at AP, but his greatest contribution was anchoring a news desk that was responsible for typing out broadcast and print reports for news and sports. He also maintained the local daybook, a listing of the hundreds of events that take place in the Washington area.

"LeRoy Tillman was a talented journalist who had a tremendous understanding of the District of Columbia and its issues, and more importantly, as a native, he had a real love for the city," said Derrill Holly, one of his former AP colleagues. "LeRoy had an ability to devote time to numerous stories simultaneously and manage his heavy workload in a way that churned out stories while they were still news."

Mr. Tillman began his journalism career in the early 1980s as a producer for WMAL-AM, where he worked on the Ken Beatrice morning show and other programs for more than two years. In 1984 he moved to WTOP-AM, where he worked as an editor until he was hired by AP.

After nearly two decades in journalism, Mr. Tillman changed careers in 1998, when he became a senior communications specialist and associate director of media relations for Washington Hospital Center. Barbara Ware, his supervisor, said that he made her job easy because his copy was "flawless" and that he had a passion for the job.

After leaving Washington Hospital Center in 2007, Mr. Tillman was a caretaker for his sister, Antionette Tillman, who died in January.

LeRoy William "Billy" Tillman Jr. was born April 28, 1955, in Washington and graduated from McKinley Tech High School in 1973. He attended American University and the University of the District of Columbia, majoring in communications and journalism.

Mr. Tillman had a passion for sports, especially baseball. He was a member of Unity of Washington, a nondenominational church, and the Circle of Light, an independent spiritual group.

His wife of eight years, the former Angel Bilal, died in 1998.

Survivors include his mother, Rosa Sims Tillman of Washington; a sister, Deborah Love of High Point, N.C.; and a brother, Ronald Tillman of Washington.

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