Howard James Billingsley, born in Phoenix, May 20, 1936, died in Payson, Jan. 19, 2013.
As a youngster of eight years, this third generation Arizona native rode the Coronado Trail on horseback with his father. As a young man he water-skied on Apache Lake for bragging rights and a few trophies.
Howard met his sweetheart when they were 14, and when they began dating three years later, a romance that lasted six decades began. Together they raised three children and had many adventures motorcycling, camping and hunting in the mountains or boating at the lake. His family shares fond memories of Howard cooking breakfast on these summer trips and telling tales around the fire in the evenings. As grandchildren were born, “Grandpa” was actively involved in their lives, cheering them on in their achievements. Family was important to Howard and in 2000 he organized a family reunion attended by 100 people from across the United States.
After attending the University of Arizona Howard went to work for the copper mining company Kennecott (Asarco) first as an assayer in the lab, then onto metals accounting. He retired after 34 years as a Front Line Supervisor for the open pit mine.
The Billingleys raised their family in Kearny where Howard was active in the community as Assistant Fire Chief for the volunteer department. A gregarious man, now-grown children of that community were always coming up to say hello to the man they remembered as their Boy Scout Master, Little League Umpire, or the man who dressed up on Halloween as “Granny Goodwitch”, and told them they were supposed to say, “Happy Birthday.”
A member of the York Rite Body in Winslow, Howard was a Master of the White Mountain Masonic Lodge #3 in Globe and a four-time Master of the Ray-Winkleman Masonic Lodge #24 in Kearny.
Upon retirement, Howard and Shirley moved to a home in Payson, triple the size of their little one in Kearny so there was plenty of room for visitors. He was active in the Masons, was a AARP tax preparer, an Inspector of Precincts for the Gila County Election Board, and a Mogollon Health Alliance volunteer, giving more than 2,000 hours of service in 10 years.
When you asked Howard a question he would often say, “Well…” and then the story would come.
Howard is survived by his loving wife of 56 years, Shirley Billingsley; children, Karen (Rich) Thomas of Winslow, Sandy Billingsley of Florence, and Ken (Teresa) Billingsley of Mesa; 10 grandchildren, Jennifer Torres (Mateo Lawrence), Marco Torres (Stephanie), Carmen Alonzo (Tony), Patrick Thomas (Anna), Dorothy Bryer (Eric), Michelle Thomas, Matthew Simpson (Carley), Katie Billingsley, Eric Billingsley and Kendra Paynter; and six great-grandchildren, Tallon Simpson, Lilly and Lexi Torres, Santana Lawrence, Xavier Alonzo and Josiah Paynter. Howard is also survived by his sister June Jacobs and nephew Mike Jacobs.
Howard was preceded in death by his parents, Bob and Rose Billingsley.
In lieu of flowers donations can be made to Hospice Compassus or the Humane Society of Central Arizona.
Memorial services were held at 1 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 26, at Ray-Winkleman Lodge #24, 318 Fairhaven, Kearny, and will be held at 1 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 2, at Payson Masonic Lodge #70, 200 East Rancho, Payson.
May 20, 1936 – January 19, 2013