Slain doctor remembered as good neighbor in Dillon | VailDaily.com

Slain doctor remembered as good neighbor in Dillon

Bob Berwyn
bberwyn@summitdaily.com
Dillon, CO Colorado
Dr. George Tiller talks to state legislators during a "clinic experience" at his Wichita, Kan. facility in 1997. Tiller, who ran one of three clinics in the country that performed late-term abortions, was shot and killed outside a Wichita church on Sunday May 31, 2009. (AP Photo/The Wichita Eagle, Dave Williams) ** NO MAGS, NO SALES **
AP | The Wichita Eagle

DILLON, Colorado ” The Tiller family used their Dillon residence as a quiet getaway from day to day life in Wichita, and neighbors of the family said they were stunned and saddened by the news of Tiller’s murder Sunday.

“We’re sad that this has happened,” said Pen Wimbush, president of the Corinthian Hills property owners association. “We knew the family really well. Our heart goes out to them.”

Tiller, 67, was serving as an usher during morning services Sunday when he was shot in the foyer of Reformation Lutheran Church in Wichita, police said. The gunman fired one shot at Tiller and threatened two other people who tried to stop him. Tiller had been a lightning rod for anti-abortion groups for decades. A protester shot him in both arms in 1993, and his clinic was bombed in 1985.

“He was a very nice man, a gentleman. He always said hello. He was always a pleasure to talk to. He skied and hiked a lot when he was here,” said neighbor Jay Weinstein.

Weinstein said the Tiller family had recently been working on a renovation of their Corinthian Hills home. He said the family had owned the part-time Ensign Drive residence for eight or 10 years.

“When they first moved here we got hate mail from anti-abortion groups, saying there was a killer in the neighborhood,” Weinstein said, alluding to radical anti-abortion activists opposed to the practice of life-saving late-term abortions.

Dillon resident Don Parsons, a retired physician, didn’t know Tiller personally, but said he respected Tiller’s work.

“Anyone, I think, with a sense of moral and ethics feels that murder is not the answer … This is a tragedy and travesty and reduces all of us,” Parsons said. “It os a tragic loss for his family and the medical profession.”

Parsons said that, professionally, Tiller was known for his skill in practicing what is, and should be, the rare procedure of late-term abortion.

“There are women who have benefited from his skills and intervention in situations … where the baby would have died and birth would have resulted in serious complications for the mother,” Parsons said.

Referring to the controversy over the practice, Parsons said there’s more to it than just someone performing “late-term” abortions.

“It’s a broader issue that includes the question of women’s reproductive rights,” Parsons said.

The medical consensus is that Tiller was saving lives, and Parsons said it was the “ultimate irony” that pro-live advocates would resort to murder.

Both pro-choice and anti-abortion groups condemned the murder.


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