James Billings Obituary

October 21, 2010

in News,Obituaries

Funeral services were held for James L. Billings, 87, who died Oct. 11, 2010 surrounded by his family.

Jim was born May 10, 1923, the son of Chester R. and Susan (Stockwell) Billings on a hard-scrabble-hill farm in Rochester.

Jim graduated from Rochester High School in 1941. After the start of WWII he worked briefly for General Electric Co. in Schenectady, N.Y., before joining the Army. He served three years, with two years in England, France and Germany and was discharged in late 1945.

Jim entered the University of Massachusetts in the summer of 1946 and graduated with a BS in Forest Management in 1950.

He started working for the Vermont Forest Service (now Forest Parks and Recreation.) and in 1951 became the Windsor County Forester, stationed in Woodstock. He held this job until retiring in 1982, after which he did consulting work until moving to Rochester in 1992. In Rochester he kept busy caring for a large garden and lawn and cultivating the family tree farm.

In 9146 he married Shirley Arlene Thuener of Scotia, N.Y. They lived in Amherst, Mass., until he graduated, then briefly in Montpelier before moving to Woodstock.

During his Army service he worked in medium-automotive maintenance, helping to keep the vehicles running. He received special training with amphibian trucks and worked on Omaha Beach for several weeks, after which he returned to his original maintenance assignment while following the troops. Jim left the service as a Sgt. Tech.

In Woodstock, he was active in organized sports as well as a longtime member of the Woodstock Park Commission. He served on the Board of Directors for the Woodstock National Bank from 1978 until 1992 and was a longtime member of the North Chapel University Society, serving on the Board of Trustees. He was a 50-year member of both the Society of American Foresters and the American Tree Farm System. Jim was a Rotarian in the Woodstock Club for 25 years and a Paul Harris Fellow. After moving to Rochester, he joined the Bethel Area Rotary Club and became an Honorary Member. He and his wife were active members of the Sugar House Swingers Dance Club for 27 years.
Jim was always interested in land use and other conservation activities. He belonged to the American Legion, Sierra Club, Vermont Landowners Association, Nature Conservancy and the Vermont Natural Resource Council, as well as the Vermont Woodland Association.

Jim was proud of his family, his tree farm, and his gardens. He enjoyed good music, older poetry, dancing, golf, his wife’s cooking, and life in general.

Jim wrote “County Forester Notes” every other week in local newspapers and as a Master Gardener wrote weekly columns for two garden seasons in the Herald of Randolph after retiring.

He leaves his wife Shirley; a son, Jerel Billings and wife Kathy of Morrisville, N.Y.; three daughters, Bonnie Goodrich and David Belzak of Juneau, AK, Patricia McGill and husband Douglas of Lyndonville, Nancy Merrill and husband Dean of Pomfret; six grandchildren, Malcolm Goodrich of Juneau, Morgan Goodrich of Redmond, WA, Jeffrey Billings of Plattsburgh, N.Y., Haley McGill, Kelley McGill and Megan McGill, all of Lyndonville; three step-grandchildren, Kyle Mur-phey of Plattsburgh, Kristin Murphey of North Royalton, OH, Erin Murphey Frusteri of Cleve-land, Oh; two sisters, Lois Bill-ings Stoddard of Lyndonville and Betty Billings Morgan of Lancaster, Calif.

He was predeceased by two sisters, Hilda Billings Stoddard and Beth Billings Stoddard.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Vermont Wood-land Association, PO Box 6004, Rutland, 05702 or Society of American Foresters, 5400 Gorosvenor Lane, Bethesda, MD 20814-2198.

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