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Outpost owner Stillings passes away suddenly


   Tom Stillings, a longtime Madras resident and the man behind the Outpost stores, died suddenly Sunday from what is thought to be a heart-related incident.
   Stillings, 70, on Sunday morning had shoveled gravel outside his Jefferson Street home for about an hour, following Saturday's rainstorm. Shortly thereafter, according to family reports, he and his wife were preparing to go to Bend. He took his beloved black poodle, Ziggy, outside. When his wife, Rae Ellen, emerged, she couldn't find her husband. After a few minutes, he was found face down in a small ditch created by the rain's runoff.
   Initial indications were that Stillings had suffered a heart attack, or related incident. He had suffered a heart attack seven years ago and had a weak heart since.
   Always an entrepreneur, Stillings opened Quality Sounds, a CB radio store, in Madras in 1977. In the tough economy of the early 1980s, he managed the local Leather's gas station. He opened an Outpost store inside the station. When the economy improved in the 1980s, he moved the Outpost to the Jefferson Street spot where Quality Sounds had been. He eventually moved the Outpost to its current location in south Madras, buying the former Western Auto building.
   Stillings would eventually open five other Outpost locations -- in Prineville, Redmond, La Pine, The Dalles and Sisters. The Sisters and Redmond locations are now closed, but the other four remain.
   Stillings had been semiretired for the past several years. A full obituary appears on page 15.