WACO, Texas — A Waco man beloved by many in the Renaissance fest community will be laid to rest this weekend after losing his second bout with cancer.
But his family has plans to ensure his memory lives on.
Mike Tillery passed away at the age of 52 Friday, June 9 from liver cancer.
"He was one of a kind. He was one of those people that you'll never find again," his son Anthony Tillery said.
"We didn't see it as him not coming through you know. He had such a spirit about him," Louise Bates, Mike's mother said.
Tillery was initially diagnosed with colon cancer in December 2018.
"You know he ended up beating it and with no problem. I mean with a smile on his face and a pirate hat on his waist. He beat it," Anthony said.
Things were fine but cancer spread to his liver earlier this year. Anthony said they expected Mike to beat that too--until he went septic on Mother's Day.
"It kind of opened our eyes, and we started to realize that the end was near," Anthony said. "And the one thing that he had always loved was the Renaissance Fair."
Mike was known as Crooked Beard or Mikee Mann in the Renaissance community.
"If we were at shows together, we camped together we cook together, we lived together we laughed and cried together," Pete "Savage" Peters said.
Peters said Mike attended his first Renaissance Fair in 2013 and donned the persona of a pirate. And it stuck since.
"If you knew him growing up, you knew that he was a character. And he grew into that character when he found the fairs. It was OK to be wild and crazy," Bates said.
Anthony started planning a charity renaissance fair this spring as a way to bring his father a little joy. At Mike's request proceeds will go to Baylor Scott & White McClinton Cancer Center and Shepard's Heart, a food pantry.
And although he won't be there to see it, Mike's legacy of putting smiles on everyone's faces will continue.
"Mike helped a lot of us find our way and find a place where we belong and then doing that he found his thing," Peters said.
Renaissance Faire Crooked Beard Charity event takes place July 10-11 at Old Fort Parker in Groesbeck. Cost is $8 for 12 and under, military and senior citizens, $10 for over 12. Vendor space is $40 each. Camping is available at $10 for tents and $20 for RVs.
You can reach out to Louise Bates at 254-855-7146 if you would like to provide a donation.