Full Steam Ahead: Mort Tiley

Morton Tiley has had a fondness for steam engines most of his 94 years. He comes by his passion honestly; he is a machinist at heart.

He started with his father’s business after WWII, and he came to Florida from Connecticut to open a branch of the family business in Ft. Lauderdale. He moved into wells and pumps soon after and opened Morton’s Pump and Supply. But the machinist in him never went away. He retired in 1987 and still maintained a complete machine shop at his home. He continued to do machining for people up until a year ago.

Then, one day on a machine shop job he met a man from Eustis who shared his love of steam engines and had built small-scale steam locomotives. He introduced Mort to Ridge Live Steamers. The Steamers is a group of people who build, run and ride steam engines on their own series of tracks. Mort was off and running in pursuit of his passion when a diagnosis of melanoma sidetracked him.

What do you do when the doctors show you an MRI with more than 20 brain tumors and tell you surgery is not a real option? If you’re Mort Tiley, you call your friends, your train buddies, your doctors and nurses and your family, and you go full steam ahead at life—you throw a party! Mort is determined to live life to its fullest while he’s here, and he thought a luau might be just the ticket.

“I’m going to rent the tiki boat that goes behind my house,” Mort said. “I’m going to go out with a bang. I’m going to have a party!”

On Saturday June 13, more than 75 people came to help Mort celebrate his life with tiki boat rides and a big tent with food and drinks. Everybody took a boat ride. Everybody had a fantastic time—that’s the point of it after all.

As Mort would say, “Live every day to the fullest. Be grateful you woke up in the morning. Do what you can with the day. Be happy. Love God. Be thankful.”

Cornerstone Hospice is helping Mort through the next phases of his life. And, like everything he’s done for the last 94 years, its full steam ahead.