A father of six who collapsed while moving his son into a dormitory at Arkansas State University has died.
“Jeremy was a tender and affectionate partner,” Elizabeth Goodson, the fiancée of 45-year-old Jeremy Tillman, tells TODAY.com. “He was a man of the highest integrity, and there is no one like him. This hole in our hearts will never be able to be filled.”
“He took me and my 6 children, and chose to integrate us into his life without hesitation,” added Goodson. Tillman also had six children of his own.
On August 19, Tillman was moving his son Jace into a campus residential building when he stopped breathing, according to a police report sent to TODAY.com by Arkansas State University.
“When he came through the door … he was in obvious distress,” Goodson told NBC affiliate KARK 4 News. “He just had a very sudden medical event as we were moving things in. I guess he may have strained too hard.”
Campus police were called to the Living-Learning Community Building 2 when a man stopped breathing, according to the report. When police entered the room, they found Tillman lying on the ground with foam “pouring” from his mouth, the report says. Others in the room had already begun administering CPR on Tillman. Another law enforcement officer stated in the report that police were handed an automated external defibrillator, a device used in cardiac arrest cases. The device was used to deliver an electric shock in an effort to restart Tillman’s heart.
The dad was taken to St. Bernards Medical Center in Jonesboro, where Goodson said he died.
“We went there with him, and then driving home without him was, I think, one of the worst things I’ve ever experienced,” Goodson told KARK.
Goodson, who had gotten engaged to Tillman less than two months ago, said she will likely wear the dress reserved for their engagement photo shoot to his funeral.
According to Tillman’s obituary, “He loved shooting guns, working on cars and most of all, spending time with his family.”
Tillman, who lived in Russellville, Arkansas, was a “selfless” dad to their blended family, said Goodson.
“Jeremy was an understanding parent,” Goodson tells TODAY.com. “Despite working full-time and part-time at home, he rarely missed important events, and he always made time for movie nights, soccer in the yard, or pull-up competitions. He showed our children how a man should treat a woman, and how to be intentional with your word.”
“He was selfless, and always worked hard to ensure everyone had the things that they wanted and needed, often to his own detriment. He loved all our children, and was the epitome of what a man and father should be.”
A spokesperson from Arkansas State University sent TODAY.com an online statement that says:
“Chancellor Todd Shields and Arkansas State University extend deepest condolences to student Jace Tillman. The university community will continue to support Jace and keep his family in their thoughts and prayers during this very difficult time.”
Editor’s note: We removed a photograph from this article to protect the privacy of the family’s minor children.