I. D. Lilly, a retired trucker and promoter of the largest family reunion ever held, died in March of this year. He was an active participant in the famous West Virginia family’s gatherings, and served on the Lilly Family Reunion Board of Directors.
In 2009 some 2,585 Lilly relatives gathered in Flat Top, West Virginia. It was such a large reunion that Guinness’ Book of World Records named it the largest family reunion ever held.
Don’t you wish that your family was as organized and connected as the Lilly family?
Ira Dupuy Lilly’s obituary appeared in GenealogyBank and was published in the Orlando Sentinel (Orlando, Florida), 22 April 2013, page B-4. Here is that obituary in full; it’s well worth reading.
His Family’s Reunions Set World Records
On Aug. 9, 2009, the Lilly family set the Guinness world record for the biggest family reunion. Within that group of 2,585, meeting for three days in a big pasture on Flat Top, W.Va., was I.D. Lilly, a former Orlando trucking company owner.
Before his death on March 27 at age 93, Lilly would earn family-reunion recognition for traveling the farthest, being the oldest and being one-half of the longest-married couple to attend the reunion. He died of complications related to dementia.
Before his mind began to abandon him, Lilly came to the reunions with a tent, a table and some chairs so relatives, near and far, could sit down and catch up.
“He would tell you about his Aunt Sally Ann and he would pull out his family tree,” said his daughter Barbara Savino, 65, of Longwood. “He had 102 cousins — can you imagine?”
So big is the Lilly family that just about anybody can find themselves on the family tree.
“This part of West Virginia, people call it Lillyland. There’s a Lilly everywhere you turn,” Savino said.
So important is the reunion, Savino said, that the governor of West Virginia often makes an appearance.
The family reunion is held on 38 acres of land that includes a kitchen and dining area, covered bleachers, stage and restrooms — all built for the purpose of the reunion. There are booths for family members selling jewelry, quilts, children’s toys and souvenir embroidered T-shirts and caps. The Lilly genealogist has a booth where she can show everyone where they fit on the family tree.
There are games and prizes for kids and a potluck buffet that would include a butterscotch pie baked by Lilly’s wife of 65 years, Allegra.
The reunion to I.D. Lilly was about home, heritage and linage. It was about staying connected to family no matter how far removed the relation or how far away the relatives. It was about walking into the kitchen and dining area and seeing the pictures of his ancestors on the wall, where his face will join the gallery of ghosts this summer.
His father and two brothers are on the wall. So is his mother, the woman who ran the general store in Cool Ridge. From her, he learned the lesson of selfless generosity.
Lilly moved to Orlando from West Virginia, in the late 1950s, when he started Laskco Inc., a trucking company. Through the years, Lilly helped out his drivers and mechanics whenever they ran out of money or into hard times.
Once, his wife came home and found her washing machine missing because Lilly gave it to an employee who needed one, Savino said.
“That’s the West Virginia style,” his daughter said. “If somebody needed something, he would just help them.”
The Lilly family reunion produces an annual program that is 160 pages thick. This year, there will be a tribute page to Ira Dupuy Lilly for his contributions on the Lilly Family Reunion Board of Directors.
After his death, Lilly’s body was flown back home to Beckley, W.Va., and the Sunset Memorial Park where so many of his relatives are buried. His interment on April 2 wasn’t in the family plot, but an above-ground mausoleum.
A Navy pilot who flew a blimp during World War II in search of German submarines, I.D. Lilly couldn’t abide being laid to rest underground.
In addition to his wife and daughter, Ira Dupuy Lilly is survived by his sons Larry Lilly, of Cool Ridge, W.Va., and Alan Lilly, of Orlando; six grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.
Rose & Quesenberry Funeral Home, Beckley, W.Va., handled funeral arrangements.