Betty Joyce Tillery, 90, long time resident of Auburn and recent resident of Arbor Springs Health and Rehab in Opelika, passed away on May 13, 2024, at East Alabama Medical Center.
She was born on Aug. 25, 1933, in LaGrange to the late William Henry Tillery and Thelma Sanders Tillery.
Betty dedicated her life to the art of nursing and nursing education. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing at Emory University and a Master’s of Nursing at Kentucky Baptist in Louisville. She also earned a Master’s in Social Work at the Carver School of Missions and Social Work in Louisville.
Betty taught at Kentucky Baptist, the University of Kentucky Medical School and Berea College in Kentucky. She served as a nursing consultant for public health and mental health for Medicare and Medicaid. She taught nursing at the Auburn University School of Nursing.
After serving as a clinical nurse specialist at the Veteran’s Administration in Tuskegee, Ms. Tillery retired from the field in which she loved and dedicated her career.
Betty was a supportive and encouraging presence in the lives of her nephews and nieces. She was a wonderful conversationalist and a life-long learner. She challenged herself to remain current in the topics of business, politics and technology and had a love of nature. She came to know Christ at a young age and was a Baptist by faith.
She is survived by her sister, Doyce Tillery Amos of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and 13 nephews and nieces.
In addition to her parents, she was preceded in death by her brothers, Dr. Don Tillery, William (Buddy) Tillery, Ajalon (Happy) Tillery and her sister, Shirley Tillery Reese.
She will be remembered in a private memorial service. Vance Brooks Funeral Home of Phenix City assisted the family with arrangements.

Gloria Barber Detmer, 69, of Opelika was born on June 23, 1954, in Prattville and passed away peacefully on May 17, 2024.
She loved her family and enjoyed getting to spend time with them. She loved the comedians in her family that knew just how to make her laugh. She was a loving wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, sister and sister-in-law. She worked for the State of Alabama as a fraud investigator for 25 years. She will be deeply missed.
Mrs. Detmer was preceded in death by her parents, Curtis H. Barber and Blanche Rhodes Barber, and a son, Wesley Shane Meeks.
Mrs. Detmer is survived by her husband, Fernando Detmer; two sons, Marty Meeks (Kathy) and Aubrey Meeks (Sandy); twin sister, Gladys Arunachalam (Ravi), and sisters, Carol Dickerson and Toni Herd (William); brother, Curtis Allen Barber (Loretta); five grandchildren, seven great-grandchildren and a host of nieces and nephews.
A graveside service was held May 21, with Brother Dennis Meeks officiating and Frederick-Dean Funeral Home assisting with the arrangements.

Dr. Robert Glenn Brown, 83, of Opelika passed away peacefully at home on May 16, 2024, attended by his loving family.
Robert was born on Dec. 29, 1940, in Norfolk, Virginia, to Charlie Glenn Brown and Margaret Pridgen Brown. He grew up spending summers with his surviving cousins Margaret and Rebecca. Known as “Butch” in high school, he was a wrestler and football center. He loved exploring the Chesapeake Bay around Norfolk with his best friend Burt. He studied philosophy at the University of Virginia and medicine at Duke University.
He married Cletis Betty Akers, and they had a son, Glenn, while he served in the U.S. Navy aboard the USS Lexington. His daughter, Rebecca (Becky), was born while he was a medical resident at the University of Florida. He studied microvascular surgery at the University of Rochester (New York). He was an associate professor at Emory University in Atlanta, where he pioneered novel reconstructive surgery techniques and developed a life-long passion for reconstructive surgery helping children with cleft lips and cleft palates.
In 1979, Bob and his family settled in Opelika, where he was a surgeon for the rest of his career. For a time, he served as the chief of staff at East Alabama Medical Center during its expansion, and he was board examiner for the American Board of Plastic Surgery.
His passion was children’s reconstructive surgery, and he volunteered monthly at Montgomery’s children’s hospital throughout his time in Opelika. He could hardly go anywhere without being thanked by someone he helped.
Years after losing his first wife to a 12-year fight with cancer, Bob married Cecelia Carol McGuffey, who had lost her husband after a similar struggle. They enjoyed almost a decade together before Bob’s passing.
Bob is survived by Cecelia and her children, by his adult children, Becky and Glenn, and by his grandchildren, Alex, Gavin, Mason and Meris.
A memorial service was held May 20 at Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Opelika, which Bob loved and attended since 1979. Frederick-Dean Funeral Home assisted with the arrangements.
In lieu of flowers, the family invites donations to two of Bob’s beloved causes, Emmanuel Episcopal Church and the Salvation Army, or to a charity dear to you.

Ann Diffley Neighbors, 82, of Nixburg, Alabama, passed away on May 15, 2024.
Born on Oct. 12, 1941, Ann graduated from Goodwater High School in 1960 and attended Auburn University, majoring in home economics.
On June 4, 1961, Ann married Bobby G. Neighbors and over the next 63 years, they had two children and relocated to several cities in Alabama where Bobby served as a teacher, coach, principal or superintendent in Rockford, Kellyton, Goodwater, Woodland, Guntersville, Tallassee, Jasper and Jefferson County (Birmingham). In 2003, Bobby retired from public education and the couple settled into his home place in Nixburg.
Ann had no problem finding employment in every city the family lived in. A versatile and hardworking employee, she excelled in every position and was a tremendous asset to her employers. Two positions she was most proud of in her career were serving as a writer and editor of federal projects at Sizemore & Sizemore Forestry Services in Tallassee, where she and Dr. Sizemore also taught grant writing workshops at Duke University during the summers, and serving as the financial manager of The Sportsman Center in Jasper. Ann was an accomplished lay speaker and was responsible for planting and growing Sunday school classes everywhere the family lived. She never missed an opportunity to witness to others through her Christian service, and she loved nurturing and encouraging others. Filled with the Fruits of the Spirit, Ann had a great love for all people, especially her family, and a great need to serve them. She spent her life encouraging others and making them feel good about themselves.
Ann enjoyed entertaining friends and family and was a master at it. Whether it was a reunion, a reception, a party or any other occasion, Ann was always up for planning, hosting and/or helping. She was very artistically talented with a gift of decorating and designing and loved helping others beautify their spaces and their lives.
Ann was predeceased by her parents, Lemerle Wright Diffley and Oscar Harmon Diffley; and two brothers, Wayne and Roland.
She is survived by her husband of 63 years, Bobby; daughter, Jennifer Ann Neighbors of Auburn; son, Mark Diffley Neighbors and daughter-in-law, Terri, of Opelika; two grandchildren who affectionately called her Gigi, Chelsea (Will) Neighbors Cloud of Helena and Sgt. John Carter Neighbors of Fort Drum, New York; and two great-grandchildren, Walker Holt and Reece Ellynn Cloud of Helena.
A Celebration of Life service was held May 17 at Cornerstone First Global Methodist Church in Alexander City.
For those who would like to honor Ann’s lifelong desire to help others, the family suggests making a contribution to a charity of your choice.
Radney Funeral Home of Alexander City handled arrangements.

Larry Hughie Martin, aka “Sharpshooter,” 81, of Auburn departed from this earthly world on May 16, 2024, surrounded by loved ones.
He was born July 22, 1942, in Opelika to the late Hughie Martin and Colie Hemmings Martin Vincent. He was a loving husband, father, “poppa,” brother and friend. Larry appreciated a good practical joke and was an avid outdoorsman and marksman. He enjoyed hunting, fishing and feeding the multitude of hummingbirds that returned to his home each year.
In addition to his parents, Larry was preceded in death by his wife of 54 years, Clara; his brothers Robert, Donald and Eddie; and his son, Larry Wade Martin.
He is survived by daughters Kathy Martin of Opelika, Audra (Don) Laking of Wetumpka and Jami (Sam) Howell of Opelika; grandchildren, Ciera Sanasith, Brooke Chunn, Briahna Preston, Kristan (Jeremy) Domingus, Tommy Howell and Lainee Howell; great-grandchildren, Cole Catrett, Hadleigh Chunn, Caroline Chunn, Olivia Domingus, Chloe Catrett and Hendley Howell; sister, Mary (Earl) Jackson of Auburn; devoted companion Brenda Freeman; and several nieces and nephews.
The family extends heartfelt gratitude to the staff of Bethany House for their care and compassion during Larry’s final days. Their unconditional support was a beacon of light during a time of sadness.
Visitation was held May 21 at Jeffcoat-Trant Funeral Home. Out of respect for Larry’s wishes, no public memorial service will be held. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations in Larry’s memory be directed to Hospice Angels Foundation, c/o Bethany House, 1171 Gatewood Dr., Bldg. 100, Auburn, AL 36830-1829.

William “Will” David McConnell passed away on May 3, 2024, after a 15-year battle with bipolar disorder.
He was born on Nov. 21, 1978, in Griffin, Georgia, to Debra Pruitt and David McConnell. He graduated from Opelika High School in 1996 and attended Southern Union State Community College while working for Southern Electronics.
A prolific tinkerer, Will loved to deconstruct various mechanical items then improve upon the original design. He actively advocated exercise, especially for children. He built custom bikes for his niece and nephew and built/repaired bikes for Exodus Ranch, a home for local children in need. Later in life, he worked for several bike shops and could assemble bikes at record speed. Bicycle and motorcycle racing were his primary passions. Among his countless races and victories, Will was a two-time Bike Coweta Rockstar Challenge champion, two-time Go Nuts Spring Series overall winner, Battle for Paynes Creek overall team winner and Bo Bikes Bama participant.
Bipolar disorder can feel like an unsolvable puzzle. Those suffering from the illness often do not recognize problematic symptoms. Their brains are unable to process when their thoughts and moods do not reflect reality. Even if they acknowledge the illness and seek treatment, it can take months to access the help that they need. Resources are scarce and overloaded. While the stigma around the disease has improved, it still exists.
Faced with the hopelessness of depression and feeling like a burden to those he loved, Will believed that he had no choice but to take his own life. We cannot change Will’s fate, but we can do our part to ensure that others do not follow the same path. Will’s death serves as a painful reminder to never miss an opportunity to tell someone that you love them. God has a plan and a purpose for each of our lives, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11).
Will is survived by his mother, Debra Pruitt; father, David McConnell; grandmother, Elna Brown; siblings, Jennifer (Ken) Golden, Ashley (Ferrill) Crisler, Conner (Cassie) Pruitt, and Harrison (Rebecca) McConnell; nephews, James Golden and Oliver McConnell; and niece, Charlotte Golden. Will was preceded in death by his grandparents, William Brown and Gene and Helen McConnell.
To honor Will’s memory, there will be a Celebration of Life on Saturday, July 13, at 2 p.m. in the former Southern Electronics location, 12 North 8th Street, Opelika. The family asks attendees to wear bright colors. a
Jeffcoat-Trant Funeral Home is assisting the family with arrangements.
In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to UAB’s Early Intervention in Mental Health program by visiting For more information on this revolutionary program, go to Nearly everyone has a mental illness story. Join us as we work to solve the puzzle.

Orlando Ray Welch was born in Montgomery on Jan. 19, 1973. He died in Salem on May 11, 2024. He was 51 years old.
He is survived by his mother, Nola “Susie” Coshatt, and his father, “Whitey,” as well as his sisters, “Mary K” (Brian) Folds and Kristy (Charles) Carter. He is also survived by his girlfriend, Lisa Kirk, his grandmother and numerous aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and cousins.
Orlando was deeply rooted in his community and family. His work in the construction industry in Opelika demonstrated a commitment to his craft and dedication to building and improving his community. He was loved and will be missed by many, including his immediate family, friends and extended relatives.
Frederick-Dean Funeral Home is handling arrangements.

Byron Lynn Blagburn, 77, passed away peacefully, surrounded by his family on May 8 in Auburn.
Byron was born on March 22, 1947, in Cottonwood, Missouri, to the late Mildred Louise (Blurton) Blagburn and Dalton Edward Blagburn. He grew up in Benton Harbor, Michigan. Byron was not only a dedicated scientist but also a man of many passions. He was fascinated by guitars, a passion that started at an early age and led him to perform in multiple bands. He also had a keen interest in music, which he pursued by training at the Berklee School of Music in Boston, Massachusetts. His academic journey led him to receive B.S. and M.S. degrees in biology from Andrews University and a Ph.D. in parasitology from the University of Illinois.
Dr. Blagburn arrived at Auburn University in March 1982 and held a continuous faculty appointment for over 40 years. In 1999, he became just the 10th Distinguished University Professor in AU’s history. He instructed first-, third- and fourth-year veterinary students, directed graduate research and served as the director of the clinical parasitology diagnostic laboratory. He is recognized internationally for his work and research in veterinary parasitology and most recently received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Companion Animal Parasite Council.
He was not just a scientist and an educator but also a mentor and a friend to many. Byron was sincerely grateful to his students and colleagues for their support and friendship throughout his academic and professional journey. His relationships with them were not just professional but deeply personal, and he cherished these connections.
He was preceded in death by his parents and fur buddies Piper, Hoss, Darby, Scotch, Alice and Georgia. He is survived by his loving wife, Kathy Blagburn, son Matthew Blagburn, daughter-in-law Katherine Blagburn, granddaughter Amelia “Millie” Blagburn, brother Charles (Barbara) Blagburn, sister Linda (Jim) Clegg, nephews Steven (Nicole) Blagburn and Ryan (Ashlee) Clegg, great-nephews Ryan Clegg Jr., Dalton Blagburn, Mason Blagburn and Cannon Blagburn and great-niece Laney Blagburn.
The Blagburn family will provide service information at a later date. Jeffcoat-Trant Funeral Home assisted the family with arrangements.
In lieu of flowers, please make donations to the EAGLES program at Auburn University, which provides a post-secondary education opportunity for students with intellectual disabilities, or West Auburn Baptist Church, where Kathy has been a member for more than 20 years.

Mary Ferguson, 77, of Auburn passed away peacefully on May 7, leaving behind a legacy of love, laughter and compassion.
She was preceded in death by her beloved husband, Jimmy Ferguson, with whom she shared 40 years of marriage. She is survived by her loving children, Jim Ferguson and his wife Lee of Plano, Texas, and Mary Huddleston and her husband Patrick of Auburn.
Mary was born in Mason, Ohio, and later moved to Falkville, Alabama, where she raised her family for over 30 years. Those years in North Alabama were among her happiest, filled with the joy of family gatherings and the simple pleasures of life. She loved her husband and two children deeply and was proud to add their spouses to her family. Regular talks with her sister (Donna Johnson) and brother (Joe Martin) were a treasured pastime that helped transcend the miles between them.
Mary had a successful career as a medical insurance coder before her retirement. She spent the latter part of her retirement in Auburn, where she lived for nearly 15 years, becoming a parishioner at St. Michael’s Catholic Church. She cherished the fellowship of her church community and the friendships she made there.
Mary had a kind heart and a big sense of humor. She loved meeting new people and had a gift for making people feel loved and appreciated. Her ability to bring laughter into any situation was a testament to her joyous spirit. Her passing leaves a void, but her family rejoices in knowing she is united with her loving husband.
A mass will be held at St. Michael’s Catholic Church on July 16, followed by a celebration of life. Details of the service will be provided at a later date.
Jeffcoat-Trant Funeral Home assisted the family with arrangements.