Rockford man turns 108 on July 4th

City proclaims July 4 “Izer Tilson Day” in his honor.
Published: Jul. 4, 2022 at 6:55 PM CDT
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - “I’m just happy to be 108. Nine girls and six boys, not bad,” said Izer Tilson who hit a big milestone in his life.

At 108 years old, he describes his life like a story book. Raising 15 children who went on to give him more than 100 grandkids that he has had the privilege to watch grow up over the years.

Tilson says his uncle lived a long life and wants to “live until 128.” He gives a nod to God, saying in addition to his health, the Bible is the reason for reaching the incredible milestone. He says he feels as strong as in the peak of his youth, when he was in his 20s.

“The only thing I know is I’ve been careful what I put in my mouth,” said Tilson.

The milestone is so incredible, that the City of Rockford wished Tilson a happy birthday by naming July 4, “Izer Tilson Day.” Leaders say Tilson was born in Forrest City, Arkansas and worked as a farmer, a handyman, and a businessman.

Tilson was also nicknamed “Rag Man” because of his fascination with colorful rags.

Gerline Tilson-Norris, his 12th daughter and one half of his only set of twins, says his greatest blessings are his faith, family, and friends. She enjoys looking after her father and wants to help.

“No sugar, no diabetes. I think we should have the scientists, medical scientists out here at least doing some study...this is rare,” said Tilson-Norris, “To see someone, not suffering or in a whole lot of pain or anything, just take it as it comes.”

Tilson’s wife Fannie was in her 80s when she died from heart failure in 2000. Family members described her as a church volunteer and a missionary with strong patience and a caring heart. Staying home to raise her children, she made sure they were loved no matter what.

Tilson recalls them being high school sweethearts, and she was a “careful, happy wife.”

Tilson-Norris says that he chooses to live at home for his “final lap” surrounded by family and friends. He always wants to be in the presence of his stuffed animals and WWE (Wrestling World Entertainment) tapes that are played on repeat.

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