Beloved High Point healer and activist Dr. Otis Tillman dies
HIGH POINT, N.C. — Dr. Otis Tillman, who delivered 3,000 babies in High Point during segregation and later left his fingerprints on projects that drove the local economy, died Wednesday at the age of 89, the News & Record reports.
Tillman grew up in Wadesboro, N.C., and later attended N.C. A&T, where he majored in organic chemistry and biological science and later established a scholarship based on need and community involvement. After graduation, the state of North Carolina paid for his tuition to attend the historically-black Howard University in Washington to avoid integrating UNC-Chapel Hill.
Tillman is known for successfully delivering black conjoined twins in 1965 and keeping them alive when one went into respiratory failure right after birth. The girls, joined at the pelvic area, were taken to N.C. Memorial Hospital in Chapel Hill six hours later to be separated. Though the surgery was successful, one would die at age 2. The surviving twin, Althea Allen, recently stopped to say hello when she saw “Doc” — as many call him — working in the yard, recalled Tillman’s daughter, Chiquita Tillman McAllister.
His interest was in making his city, and perhaps the world, better for everyone. Tillman was arrested as a young doctor for demonstrating at segregated restaurants and was later honored with one of the highest awards given by the National Conference for Community and Justice of the Piedmont Triad in 2001.
“You’ve got to understand that for every privilege you’re granted, there’s a responsibility you must live up to,” Tillman has said of his efforts.
Tillman is also considered the father of High Point’s Model City Program, was the former chairman of the High Point Urban Renewal Commission and a board member of the High Point Community Foundation. He served on the board of trustees of A&T for a record 25 years, including one as chairman.