Oakboro community says farewell to beloved ‘local icon’

Ted Lilly known for greeting people with hearty “Hello” in downtown
Published: Oct. 23, 2021 at 9:03 PM EDT
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OAKBORO, N.C. (WBTV) - The Oakboro community said their final farewell to a beloved local figure.

Theodore “Ted” Lilly, 66, unexpectedly died Tuesday.

He was honored at a memorial service Saturday at the Oakboro Cemetery.

He was considered a “local icon” in that small community in Stanly County.

Lilly, Jr., walked the streets of downtown Oakboro several times a day, saying hello to everyone he would meet.

He 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.”

Lilly served as the town’s ambassador and was always seen with his yellow safety vest on.

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.

“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.

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