His Life

Obituary - James "Jim" A. Tillinghast

James A. Tillinghast
January 9, 1943 – April 1, 2021

James A. Tillinghast, 78, passed away in the early morning on April 1, 2021, in Austin following a short illness.

Jim was born January 9, 1943, to Harry S. Tillinghast and Virginia A. Odenweller Tillinghast in Atlanta, Georgia. His family moved to Garland, Texas, in 1956, and he graduated from Garland High School in 1961. At the University of Texas at Austin, he earned a BS in Business in 1965 and an MBA in 1968.

While in graduate school, he worked in London for a summer with an international company where he became friends with people from diverse nationalities. This experience was the beginning of his love of travel and getting to know and understand people in various cultures.

Also while still in graduate school, the dean recommended Jim to a young Austin high tech firm, MRI. Jim was among MRI’s first employees. He left MRI to serve in the U. S. Navy, where he was a systems analyst in Norfolk, Virginia. After receiving an honorable discharge from the Navy, he returned to MRI, where he worked until the company was acquired by Intel in 1979.

“Jim was terrific at creating sound working relationships between MRI and customer or partner companies,“ Bob Brueck, co-founder of MRI, wrote recently to Jim’s family. “In particular, he supervised the establishment of the first major Service Bureau customer of MRI in the early days when that was a key to survival of the company.”

He continued to work at Intel until joining Digital Research, the pioneer in PC Operating Systems, in 1982. He went on to work at seven other high-tech companies, including, Illustra, Informix, SupportSoft, Relativity Technologies, and CMIT Solutions, an Austin-based provider of IT support services for businesses, where he worked at the time of his death.

Jim was always active in his spare time. As a youngster, he enjoyed scouting and hunting with his father and brother. He played football in high school. He received his private pilot’s license in 1967. He enjoyed home wine and beer making. While in the Navy, he became very interested in sailing and his love for the sport continued for the rest of his life. He was a member of the Austin Yacht Club off and on beginning in the late 60’s. He raced off-shore in California and was, until recently, an active racer on Lake Travis. In 2011, he became Commodore of the Austin Yacht Club and continued to be involved in various committees until the time of his death.

More recently, he found a new passion in working at their property in the Texas Hill Country, fondly known as “the ranch.” He particularly loved projects that required using the tractor. And he got much pleasure from working on building the ranch’s two cabins.

Jim is survived by his best friend and life partner, Lanelle Montgomery; his children Michael Tillinghast and Catherine Tillinghast and her husband Jack Urquizu; his surrogate son, Ryan Harden, and his family; his brother Jay Tillinghast and sister, Ann Kirk; and numerous nieces and nephews.

The family wishes to express their heartfelt appreciation to the staff at the Heart Hospital of Austin for the loving care they provided to both Jim and Lanelle during his last days.

In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to either of two passions Jim enjoyed immensely: the Technology Ministry of the Lake Travis United Methodist Church, (, or the AYC Fund at the Austin Yacht Club, (

In-person services to celebrate his life will be conducted at the Lake Travis United Methodist Church on Saturday, May 1, 2021, at 2:00 pm. Masks will be required and social distancing observed. The service will also be live-streamed; contact Patty Highland,, to receive the link to watch online.