Obituary: John Richard Billings
John Richard Billings, died August 16, 2018 after many years of suffering from Parkinson’s Disease.
He was born April 21, 1931, and notably has the same birthday as John Muir and Queen Elizabeth. He grew up in New Jersey and later transferred to Wisconsin John had a long and distinguished life. He graduated from Lehigh University in 1953 with a degree in mechanical engineering and through shifting interests went on to achieve a M.S. (Brown University, Providence, R.I.) and PhD. in philosophy from Syracuse University (Syracuse, N.Y.). John was a respected professor of philosophy and religious studies at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point (UWSP) for 31 years. Long after retiring many former students and others came forward noting the impact he had on their lives. One student, who later became a high school teacher, was so strongly influenced that he wove John’s “lessons” into his own teaching. Among other accomplishments while at UWSP, was a two-year stint as director of UWSP’s North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools accreditation team, writing the final successful report.
John had multiple interests. He was a basketball, soccer, and tennis player. Trained as a fencer, he also coached and advised UWSP’s Fencing Club in the late 1960s, and was Soccer Club Advisor. And, he adored bagpiping! While still out east, John and his father attended a Highland Games during a Labor Day weekend. He got hooked on the bagpipes then. When at UWSP, John started the Wisconsin Kilties, a bagpipe and drum band, after given the A-OK by then Chancellor Lee Sherman Dreyfus. The band performed at numerous parades and entered bagpipe competitions, winning 2nd place (Grade 4) at the Highland Games in Alma, MI in 1972. Alma, MI is known as Scotland USA. Bands from all over the United States and Canada performed at this competition. The Canadian bands were fierce competitors so winning 2nd place put a feather in his cap.
The local Rotary Club figured prominently in John’s life, where he also served as president. John and his wife hosted several Rotary Youth Exchange students from Sweden, Germany, Belgium, Japan, and Colombia.
After teaching many years, John experienced “the quiet calling of God” and studied to become a minister in the Presbyterian Church. He faithfully served the church as pulpit supply, and also served as interim pastor at the Abbotsford Church. In addition, he served on various committees of the Presbytery such as the Committee on Ministry and was the Parish Associate at the Frame Memorial Presbyterian Church in Stevens Point.
To quote from a recent sermon given by a member of Frame Church, “Cast one stone but create many ripples.” -John did just that by his teaching, his caring, good works and his love for all of us.
John is survived by his wife Victoria; his children Andrea Billings (Dennis Kobes), Cynthia Billings Roan (Bill), John Billings (Tammie), and Albert Billings (Janice); his brother, Clyde Billings; his former wife, Evelyn Schaffer; grandchildren, Minetta Lippert (Jordan), and Avery Koblings; and great grandchildren, Sullivan Jordan and Callia Mae Lippert.
He was preceded in death by his parents, John Harold and Hilda Rose Billings.
A Visitation and Time of Sharing Memories will be held from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. on Monday, August 20, 2018 at Boston Funeral Home. A Memorial Service will be held 11:00 a.m. on Tuesday, August 21, 2018 at Frame Memorial Presbyterian Church with Rev. Susan Zencka presiding. Visitation will precede at the church on Tuesday from 10:00 a.m. until the time of service and a Luncheon will follow ceremony.
Memorial contributions may be made to: the Rotary Club of Stevens Point, Humane Society of Portage County, and UWSP Philosophy Department Scholarships.
Online condolences may be made at www.bostonfuneralhome.net.
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