Georgetown College and the Department of Music experienced a great loss with the untimely passing of Dr. Stephen Tilford, colleague and dear friend, on September 10, 2006. Forty years is far too short a time to have lived on this planet, but that was beyond anyone’s control. Cancer is a cruel adversary, but Stephen fought it well. Even on the day of his final surgery, his quick wit took no holiday. To look at Stephen, one would not have suspected that anything was wrong. He looked great and didn’t mind joking with those who watched him being wheeled away. Yet, one could not escape the fact that he was in a hospital fighting for his life. Following the surgery the challenges were great, but Stephen stayed the course until the very end, teaching at the college up until one week before his departure.
He was a remarkable man. Dr. Stephen Tilford was appointed at Georgetown College in 1999. He held degrees from Florida State University, Northwestern University, and the University of Louisville. Before his full-time appointment at Georgetown, Stephen taught at Campbellsville University, and as an adjunct faculty member at University of Louisville. Stephen was a frequent recitalist in the region, but one of his most notable accomplishments was winning Third Prize in the 2000 Palma D’Oro international piano competition held in Finale Ligure, Italy. Twenty-four countries were represented in the competition. The award was a significant career accomplishment. During his short tenure at Georgetown College, one of Stephen’s desires was to secure a top quality concert grand piano suitable for visiting artists and music students at the college. His choice was a Steinway Grand. Thanks to the generous donations of family and friends, Stephen’s dream is now a reality.
It eases our sorrow a bit to know that our friend is in a better place and knows pain no more. As each day passes, however, we miss the sounds of his touch at the piano emanating from his studio, not to mention his hearty laughter echoing in the hallways. Until we meet again, we will miss you, Stephen.