Gary Tillery

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Gary Tillery
Gary Tillery.jpg
Born(1947-08-06)August 6, 1947
NationalityUnited States
Known forWriter, Sculptor

Gary Tillery is an American writer and artist known for his biographies focusing on the spiritual lives of famous figures, and for his public sculptures. His 2009 book, The Cynical Idealist, was named the official book of the 2010 John Lennon Tribute in New York City,[1] and he created the centerpiece sculpture of the Chicago Vietnam Veterans Memorial, dedicated in 2005.[2]

Life and career[edit]

Tillery was born in Phoenix, Arizona on August 6, 1947. After interrupting his education for military service in the United States Air Force in Saigon during the Vietnam War, he earned a bachelor's degree in Latin American Studies at Arizona State University and a master's degree in International Management from Thunderbird School of Global Management.[3]

Tillery co-founded The Townsend Agency, Ltd., in the Chicago area in 1979, and worked as an advertising executive for seventeen years. Throughout his time in the business world he felt drawn to create literature and art. One of his short stories, "Dragon with a Broken Wing," was selected by Ray Bradbury to receive first prize in a contest honoring the famous native of Waukegan, Illinois.[4] In 1996, Tillery resigned his position as chairman of The Townsend Agency to pursue his twin interests of writing and sculpture.

As a writer, his best-known work is The Cynical Idealist: A Spiritual Biography of John Lennon. The book was the first to examine John Lennon as a man of ideas, exploring his impact on the world as a consequence of his self-generated humanist philosophy and his spiritual growth. The book was selected as the official book of the 2010 John Lennon Tribute in New York City,[1] and subsequently translated into German, French, Portuguese, and Danish. A follow-up book, Working Class Mystic: A Spiritual Biography of George Harrison, was published by Quest Books in 2011.[5] A third book in the series, The Seeker King: A Spiritual Biography of Elvis Presley, came in 2013, and was selected as a featured book by the Patheos Book Club.[6] Tillery is also the author of three comedic detective novels, a short story collection, and three volumes of poetry.[7]

In 2000, Tillery's sculpture They Also Serve was accepted by the National Vietnam Veterans Art Museum for its permanent collection,[8] and as a result of his connection with the museum he was selected to create the centerpiece sculpture in the Chicago Vietnam Veterans Memorial at Wabash Plaza, dedicated in 2005.[9] In 2004 he created the bust of Steve Allen for the Steve Allen Theater in Hollywood.[10] Affiliated with the Fine Art Studio of Rotblatt Amrany from its founding in 1992, Tillery has joined the studio team to create several prominent outdoor sculptures, including Luis Aparicio at U.S. Cellular Field,[11] T. Denny Sanford at the Sanford USD Medical Center in Sioux Falls, South Dakota,[12] and Ray Kroc and Ronald McDonald in downtown Chicago.[13] He was co-sculptor, with Omri Amrany, on the statue of Pat Tillman for the Arizona Cardinals football team,[14] and lead sculptor on the 2-ton, 9-foot statue of Jerry Colangelo for Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Arizona, erected only a few blocks from Tillery's childhood home.[15] In July 2019 his bronze sculpture of Johnny Appleseed was unveiled in downtown Fort Wayne, Indiana. John Chapman (better known as Johnny Appleseed) was a resident of Fort Wayne in the final years of his life, and died there in March 1845.[16] His life-size bronze statue of Richard G. Hatcher was dedicated in October 2019 in Gary, Indiana. Hatcher was notable for being the first African-American to be elected mayor of a major U.S. city.[17]

Notable Works[edit]


  • Darkling Plain (2000)
  • Death, Be Not Loud (2000)
  • To an Aesthete Dying Young (2000)
  • The Cynical Idealist: A Spiritual Biography of John Lennon (2009)
  • Working Class Mystic: A Spiritual Biography of George Harrison (2011)
  • 50 Epiphanies (2012)
  • Through a Dark, Glassly (2012)
  • She Stalks in Beauty (2013)
  • The Seeker King: A Spiritual Biography of Elvis Presley (2013)
  • The Ghosts of Wrigley Field (2014)


  • They Also Serve (2000)
  • Steve Allen (2004)
  • Chicago Vietnam Veterans Memorial (2005)[18]
  • Ray Kroc (2005)
  • Ronald McDonald (2005)
  • Luis Aparicio (2006)
  • Pat Tillman (2006)
  • T. Denny Sanford (2008)
  • Jerry Colangelo (2019)
  • Johnny Appleseed (2019)


  1. ^ a b Quest Books (Theosophical Society in America). Retrieved 2012-11-22.
  2. ^ Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2012-11-22.[dead link]
  3. ^ Tillery author entry. Quest Books. Retrieved 2012-11-22.
  4. ^ Gary Tillery, Author and Sculptor. LinkedIn. Retrieved 2012-11-19.
  5. ^ WGN-TV Midday News. Retrieved 2012-12-15.
  6. ^ Patheos Book Club. Retrieved 2014-1-22.
  7. ^ Gary Tillery, Books by Gary Tillery. Retrieved 2012-11-19.
  8. ^ NVAM Collection Online. National Veterans Art Museum.[permanent dead link] Retrieved, 2012-11-19.
  9. ^ The VVA Veteran. Archived 2016-03-04 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved 2012-11-20.
  10. ^ Free Inquiry, Feb/Mar 2004, p. 58.
  11. ^ “Luis ‘Little Louie’ Aparicio still getting to second base at Sox park.” Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2012-11-19.
  12. ^ “For the Love of Children—Sioux Falls, SD—Living Statues on” Retrieved 2012-11-19.
  13. ^ Fine Art Studio of Rotblatt Amrany. Retrieved 2012-11-22.
  14. ^ Fine Art Studio of Rotblatt Amrany. Fine Art Studio 2012. Charleston, SC: Createspace, p. 8. ISBN 9781477478561.
  15. ^ [1] Retrieved 2019-2-11.
  16. ^ [2] Retrieved 2019-7-18.
  17. ^ [3] Retrieved 2019-10-14.
  18. ^ Woulfe, Molly (Nov 11, 2005). Chicago salutes Vietnam vets with new memorial. NWI Times

External links[edit]