David Franklin Lilley, also known as “Escondida Dave” and “Pops”, passed away on October 13, 2010 while in the VA Hospital in Seattle, Washington. He was 85 years old and had been living in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico for the last 24 years.
Dave was born on June 1, 1925 on the Penny Slade Plantation in Williamston, North Carolina, to Alexander Franklin and Mollie Coltrain. He is survived by his wife Bonnie Wilma Hollbrook, his ex-wife and the mother of his three children, Arlene Frances Dearing, his daughters, Donna Marie Armitage, Suzanne Carol Lilley, and his son Michael David Lilley. He had four grandchildren, Brett David Armitage, Michael Scott Armitage, David Michael Lilley and Natalie Arlene Lilley. He also had two great grandchildren, Kenneth Joseph Armitage and David Scott Armitage.
After his graduation from Williamston, North Carolina High School in 1942, he enlisted in the Navy, for the duration of WWII, where he served for 5 years. Once discharged from the Navy, he immediately enlisted in the Army where he rose to the rank of Command Sergeant Major. Upon his retirement 20 years later, he was one of three that held this rank and status in the Army. He served in WWII, Korea and Vietnam.
While in the Army, he was stationed in Germany for 8 years and traveled all over Europe. At one time he was assigned to head a 5 man team of coaches to go to Jordan and set up a complete sports program for the King Hussein and the Jordan Arab Army. He had a love of sports, especially football, basketball and boxing and was a referee, registered in both Europe and the United States, even traveling with the Harlem Globetrotters throughout Germany, France, Belgium and Luxemburg as the “stern” referee.
While in Vietnam, his artillery group was adopted by the town of Gadsden, Alabama and he was sent to speak at numerous schools and civic functions. Upon his return to Vietnam, his unit, with the funds generated in Gadsden, built a complete refugee village for the aged and helped them start a brick making business.
After his retirement from the Army in 1968, he became the Civilian Youth Director at McChord Air Force Base in Tacoma, Washington, where he organized 15 Little League Baseball team, 6 soccer teams and 5 football teams, with a staff of just one secretary and numerous volunteers.
In 1969, he moved to Westport, Washington, where he married Bonnie Wilma Hollbrook, and became a Charter Boat Captain, owning and operating his own company, along with a motel, bowling alley and restaurant.
In 1978, he moved to Patterson, Louisiana where he worked for a time as a 1st mate on a supply boat in the Gulf of Mexico. He completed the course needed to obtain his United States Coast Guard License to operate or navigate passenger carrying vessels and went to work for United Gas Pipeline as a Captain on a 142 foot supply and work boat, where he worked for 9 years. The company offered him an early retirement, which he took and moved to Seattle.