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Gary Don “Poppa Bear” Hillis, 72
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Gary Don “Poppa Bear” Hillis, 72 a native of Van Buren County and a resident of McMinnville passed from this life Sunday, July 7, after an extended illness at his home with his sons and daughters-in-law at his bedside.

He was born Friday, May 23, 1947 in Spencer, the son of the late James Hillis and the late Seawillow Johnson Hillis. He was retired from Carrier where he worked for 27 years. He was an owner of Kathy’s Market with his father and brother. He was a veteran of the Vietnam War, serving his country in the U.S. Army from 1967 to 1969.

He is survived by three sons Jerry Don Hillis, Michael Brad Hillis and wife Claudia, Tobie Christopher Hillis and wife Shelia, grandchildren Dexter Hillis and wife Ariel, Natoshia Wells and husband Dorrid, Jesse Hillis and wife Melissa, Dylan Hillis and wife Christian and Jordan Hillis, great-grandchildren Skyler Hillis, Crimson Wells, Kimber Wells, Azelea Hillis and Zoey Hillis, brothers Leonard Hillis and Troy Hillis, special brother-in-law Paul Johnson, special sister-in-law Carol Jean Holt Hillis, special nieces Mitzi Johnson, Angie Johnson and Peebles Jones, very special adopted granddaughter Kristin Blackburn Griffith, special brother and sister-in-law Hubert and Leona Tate, many other nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends.

In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his loving wife Rose Marie Tate Hillis with whom he married Jan. 3, 1969, his brothers Tommy “T-Bird” Hillis, Edward “Jabo” Hillis, sister Geraldine Hillis Johnson, and sister-in-law Sandra Hillis.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, July 13, at Gardens of Memory Memorial Cemetery with veteran honors by the American Legion Post 173 and VFW Post 5064.

Online condolences may be made to the family at

Southern Standard

(McMinnville, Tenn.) July 10, 2019