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Edward Lawrence Stilley

July 27, 1930 June 12, 2019
Edward Lawrence Stilley
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Obituary for Edward Lawrence Stilley

Edward Lawrence Stilley was born July 27, 1930 in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. He departed this life on Wednesday, June 12, 2019 in Fayetteville, Arkansas, at the age of 88. Ed was preceded in death by his parents William and Sarah (Parker) Stilley; brothers Clyde Stilley, Raymond Stilley, Albert Stilley; and sister Mary Turner. On May 24, 1959, he was united in marriage to Eliza A. Miller, his wife of 60 years, who survives him. Ed is also survived by; 5 children Martha Alice Durossette of Fort Smith, Arkansas, Stephen Edward Stilley of Houston, Texas, Oscar Amos Stilley of Yazoo City, Mississippi, Nathan Joe and wife Lovina B. Stilley of Monterey, Tennessee, and Mary Jane Cover of Huntsville, Arkansas. He is also survived by his sister Liz Winjum, 17 grandchildren, and 7 great grandchildren.
In his early life he worked at the sawmill and in logging, he also milked cows by hand in addition to his regular job. He was ordained into the ministry as a Freewill Baptist preacher at the age of 19 and preached for many years. As the children grew his lifestyle of primitive farming methods attracted the attention of Roger and Joyce Minick who wrote the book “Hills of Home” in which Ed and his family were featured. In the mid to late 70s he began building guitars and gave them to children. He understood that this is what God told him to do. With this belief he began to build more and build he did. At one point he was building one instrument every two weeks in addition to a regular days work. He financed materials used for the most part himself, although occasionally a friend would give support which he used to purchase more supplies. This became his life passion which he continued for at least 25 years, until his health declined. This drew the attention of several newspapers and finally the attention of Kelly and Donna Mulhollan. Kelly and Donna Mulhollan’s interest became a friendship and eventually a book, True Faith True Light, The Devotional Art of Ed Stilley. Another book Gifted by Tim Hawley also chronicles his journey of making guitars. His work has been featured several places including the Statehouse Museum for a year and a half.
Ed, as he was known, used his instruments as an opener to talk about God. His passion was to share the word of God. This passion was evident in all of his conversations as well as tapes of his speaking and singing which he freely distributed. With all the publicity Ed never lost sight of the purpose of his work. He did not sell but gave the instruments he made to children. His desire was to inspire children to pursue music, preferably Gospel music, thereby pursuing God.
Ordination to ministry was a lifelong commitment to Ed. With this mindset it is easy to see that when traditional means of fulfilling this commitment were closed, he used unconventional means to continue his ministry.
Visitation will be Friday, June 14, 2019 from 5:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m. at the Charles M. Nelson Memorial Chapel in Berryville, Arkansas. Funeral services will be held on Saturday, June 15, 2019 at 9:00 a.m. at the Charles M. Nelson Memorial Chapel in with, Pastor Steven Thrasher officiating. Interment will follow at the Upper Clifty Cemetery in Clifty, Arkansas under the direction of Nelson Funeral Service. Memorial donations may be made to Faith Apostolic Church, 500 Morris Street, Berryville, AR 72616. Online condolences may be sent to the family at nelsonfuneral.com. © Nelson Funeral Service, Inc. 2019

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Previous Events

Visitation

Friday

14

Jun

5:00 PM 6/14/2019 5:00:00 PM - 7:00 PM 6/14/2019 7:00:00 PM
Charles M. Nelson Memorial Chapel

302 East Madison Avenue
Berryville, AR 72616

Charles M. Nelson Memorial Chapel
302 East Madison Avenue Berryville 72616 AR
United States

Chapel Service

Saturday

15

Jun

9:00 AM 6/15/2019 9:00:00 AM
Charles M. Nelson Memorial Chapel

302 East Madison Avenue
Berryville, AR 72616

Charles M. Nelson Memorial Chapel
302 East Madison Avenue Berryville 72616 AR
United States

Cemetery Details

Location

Upper Clifty Cemetery Final Resting Place
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