Oakboro community mourns loss of well-known, beloved local figure

Ted Lilly known for greeting people with hearty “Hello” in downtown
Published: Oct. 20, 2021 at 2:34 PM EDT
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OAKBORO, N.C. (WBTV) - A community in Stanly County is heartbroken after the unexpected death of a local icon. Theodore Roosevelt “Ted” Lilly, Jr., walked the streets of downtown Oakboro several times a day, saying hello to everyone he would meet.

Lilly, 66, died Tuesday night, not long after completing one of those routes.

“I don’t know a good enough vocabulary word to tell you the magnitude of emotions and things, the impact he has given this town,” said Oakboro Police Chief T.J. Smith, who was also one of Ted’s best friends. “Ted was everything we as people should be…he was a joyful, friendly soul, never met a bad person, everybody is a good person to him, it just breaks my heart to know that a friend has gone away that’s got that kind of heart.”

It was Lilly’s habit to stop in every business to say hello, and to greet anyone he saw on the street. His younger brother Tee says Ted loved to spread encouragement.

“I’ve seen a community come together at the passing of my brother,” Tee said. “It doesn’t matter about his color, his race, it’s all about the love that he’s shared and that he’s given throughout the town.”

“He didn’t see color, he didn’t see socio-economic differences in anybody, hey just said hey and it was nothing but a heartfelt hello,” Chief Smith said.

Lilly’s death was likely due to natural causes, according to Chief Smith. The town is now planning a community memorial service that will be held in the next few days.

“That was just God’s way of letting us have an angel in Oakboro…he’s been around forever, it was time for him to go home,” Lilly added.

A special fund has been established at all locations of Uwharrie Bank to help Ted’s family with expenses.

His life will be celebrated on Saturday, Oct. 23 with a public viewing from 1:30-2:30 p.m, followed by a memorial service and processional to Oakboro Cemetary.

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