Long-time Tioga resident and owner of Clark’s Outpost Bar-B-Q James Myrle Hilliard died June 18 at the age of 59.

James Hilliard was well known in the Tioga community as the owner of the restaurant where he worked for 45 years. At 14, he began working at Clark’s Outpost as a dishwasher. He would eventually work his way up to manager before taking over as owner in more recent years.

James Hilliard was born in Dallas on April 23, 1960. He married his wife on Sept. 14, 1979.

“He was one of the kindest hearted people you’d ever care to meet,” brother Terry Hilliard said. “I can’t tell you the number of stray dogs he brought home who became members of the family. He has a lot of kids in Tioga. Clark’s was their first job for many. Most of them will tell you he was a good boss. He showed them a good work ethic, he was fair and liked sharing his wisdom with his employees.”

Terry Hilliard said his brother was somewhat of a local historian for Tioga. He really liked researching the town’s history and keeping it alive. That carried over into the business as well. Many relics of the community along with photographs and items donated by celebrities who passed through town were known to line the walls of the restaurant.

Terry Hilliard said in an example of how much his brother cared about his employees he kept them all on the payroll cleaning up the debris after the restaurant burned down in 2016. For a year and a half he made sure his staff stayed working even while he was footing the bill with no income coming in from the restaurant.

“James had a very easy going personality,” Terry Hilliard said. “He was very dedicated to his family, especially his wife Kim who he lost back in January after 39 years of marriage. We feel James is reunited with the love of his life Kim who he lost in January.”

His children, who have become increasingly involved in the business, will be taking over now that James Hilliard has died. James and Kim Hilliard had two children, Rebecca Binyon and Dustin Hilliard who both live in Tioga.

A celebration of life ceremony for James Hilliard at Clark’s Outpost Monday evening. Arrangements were under the direction of Scoggins Funeral Home & Crematory in Van Alstyne.