David (Dave) L. Lillie, a retired Professor at The University of North Carolina, died October 27 at age 79 from complications of Alzheimers disease. He was a devoted husband, father of four, and grandfather of eight. He was a life long Presbyterian and over the years served the church as Youth Group Leader, Deacon and Elder. David specialized in Early Childhood Education and Special Education at UNC’s School of Education where he trained many of the state’s special education teachers. He was an ardent believer in the positive role that behavioral science and state-supported education can have in bettering people’s lives.
Dave was born in Battle Creek, Michigan and grew up in nearby Allegan, attending Allegan High School. He played varsity football at Western Michigan University where he met the love of his life (and soon to be wife) Patricia McCreadie. He then earned his doctorate of education from Indiana University and moved to North Carolina in 1966 to work for the State Department of Public Instruction.
Dave joined the faculty of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill in 1968 with duel appointments, as Associate Professor in the School of Education, and the School of Medicine as head of the Special Education Section, Biological Sciences Center of the Child Development Institute. In the early 1970s in conjunction with Dr. James Gallagher and Dr. Donald Stedman, he became a part of the staff of the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Center as Project Director of Technical Assistance and Development System (TADS), funded by the US Office of Education, for nationwide training in Early Childhood Education of the Handicapped. Project development was his specialty. In 1990 he was appointed to direct the formation of a model elementary school, Hope Valley in Orange County. The school was created to showcase the vision and resources of the Research Triangle region and serve as a model for educational planners across the nation.
After retiring from UNC in 2000, he became a consultant to NC Department of Public Instruction and a Principal Investigator of The NC Partnership Training System for Special Education, a partnership of NC universities, public school agencies, advocacy organizations and businesses that are concerned with the improvement of educational services for students with disabilities. Dave was also part of the leadership in a reading initiative for special education teachers who teach reading to students with learning disabilities.
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Dave was an enthusiastic college sports fan. He attended Carolina basketball and football games with his family for over 45 years. He passed on his love for Carolina to his children, all four of whom are UNC alumni.
Dave’s vacations always revolved around his children, whom he took on many cross-country trips. Disney World was a favorite destination, and he travelled to Japan, Hawaii, Singapore and many other places to visit his children as adults. Dave’s grandchildren will remember him fondly as the leader of many outdoor adventures around Chapel Hill and Glen Lake Michigan.
David and Patricia celebrated their 57th wedding anniversary just two weeks before he died. Patricia and her children are grateful that he is now free from suffering. They are eternally grateful for all of the support lovingly provided by dear friends and family. He was preceeded in death by his father and mother, Leo and Marion Lillie, and sisters Pat Johnson and Lee Antuck. David is survived by Patricia; their children Jane (Dave) Johnson, Becky (Derek) Woods, Bruce (Tammy) Lillie, and Jonathan (Michelle) Lillie; two siblings, Doug (Betty) Lillie and Carol Sue (David) Disler; and eight grandchildren: Brian and Jennifer Johnson, Stuart, David (Jack), and McRae Lillie, Kevin Woods, Elijah and Iris Lillie and nephews and nieces in Michigan and Texas.
A celebration of David’s life will be held in Chapel Hill at University Presbyterian Church, on Saturday, November 8 at 2 p.m, 209 E Franklin St, Chapel Hill, NC 27514
Donations in David’s memory may made to University Presbyterian Church (Upcch.Org) or the Learning Disabilities Association of America, (Ldaamerica.Org).