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Charles O. Tillman Jr. Obituary

The Osage Nation has lost one of its most distinguished leaders, former Principal Chief Charles Owen Tillman Jr., (Ho.Tha.Lin), longtime resident of Fairfax, Oklahoma. He passed peacefully on Feb. 1, 2022, at the age of 84. He was born Sept. 22, 1937, to parents Charles Owen Tillman Sr. and Josephine Goode Tillman in Ponca City. His grandparents, Hall Emerson Goode Sr., and Maggie (Bates) Goode were original Osage Allottees and from the Grayhorse District.

Charles, well known as Charlie, graduated from Fairfax High School and studied at the University of Oklahoma. He served in the military as a member of the U.S. Army.

Charles married Cordelia (Mahan) Tillman. Together, they had three sons Chuck, Jody, and Mike.

In his younger days, he worked at W.W. Steele, Conoco Phillips in the Geology Department, as an entrepreneur in the plastic industry, and was involved in the early stages of Indian Gaming.

Charles had a long career in Osage politics serving as a councilman on the 25th Osage Tribal Council from 1978-1982 and elected Principal Chief for three consecutive four-year terms from 1990 to 2002. 

During his tenure, he began the Highest Posted Price lawsuit, which turned into the Osage Trust Case. Becoming the largest settlement in the U.S. government history ever negotiated with a single Native American tribe, the Osage won in 2010. Charlie was the first Osage Leader to attend what would become the White House Tribal Nations Summit, but in 1994 it was called the “United States-First Nations Historic Meeting” where he met with President Bill Clinton and had breakfast with Vice President Al Gore.

Former Chief Tillman took pride participating in Inlonshka every year with his children and grandchildren along beside him. He also enjoyed playing golf, watching OU football, and had a short stint as an OSU football fan when his son played for OSU.

Survivors include his sister Nancy Keil; sons Charles (Manon) Tillman III and Joseph (Cindy) Tillman; grandchildren Chanlie Tillman, Joseph Tillman, and Cordelia Tillman; and great-granddaughter Mattie Parker.

He was preceded in death by his great-grandparents Hall and Maggie Goode; his mother Josephine Goode Tillman; his father Charles O. Tillman Sr.; his brother Rodney Tillman and his son Michael Tillman.

Funeral Services will be held at 10 a.m., Monday, February 7, 2022, at the Sacred Heart Catholic Church with Father Chris Daigle officiating. Burial will follow in the Fairfax City Cemetery under the direction of the Hunsaker Wooten Funeral Home. A Traditional Dinner will start at noon in the Grayhorse Community Building. Charles will be at the Grayhorse Chapel Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Feb. 4, 5, & 6, 2022.

Pallbearers are Tim Keil, Gus Webb, Lucion Roberts, Talons Goode, Joe Hall, and Richie Roberts. Honorary are King Bowman, Mark Bowman, and George Neff. 

The family suggests donations be made to Sacred Heart Catholic Church, 333 S. 8th St., Fairfax Oklahoma. Mr. Tillman’s online guestbook may be signed at 


Hunsaker-Wooten Funeral Home

Original Publish Date: 2022-02-04 00:00:00


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As an independent news organization, we strive to report news and information with fairness and balance. While being the official news organization of the Osage Nation, we base our news judgements on our loyalties to our readers and Osage citizens, and we are not directly beholden to the Executive, Legislative, or Judicial branches of the Osage Nation.

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