Archive for Wednesday, February 19, 2003

Billings stories

February 19, 2003


From Gay Quinn, Lawrence:

I would like to share my memories of Bob and his first wife, Pat. I am 39 years old and have lived all but my first three days of life in Lawrence. My parents (my mother passed away over two years ago) both lived across the street from Bob in the '50 and '60s when he was working for KU. Growing up only a few blocks from the fieldhouse was incredible! My father still lives in the house he built in '57.

Bob's wife Pat was my mom's best friend and both Bob and Pat were there to welcome me home when my parents adopted me from a Kansas City hospital. I have a few photos of Pat and Bob grinning like proud relatives. I remember watching Wilt Chamberlain visit Bob across the street and I remember how nice Wilt's mom was. She told me she had to make the sheets on his bed and a lot of his clothes when he was growing up. Funny, that's what stuck in my memory.

Even over the years after Bob moved from that little house on Hillview Road, he would always seek my Dad out in a crowd to shake his hand and ask how the family was.

I know my Dad valued that friendship and that he is feeling sorrow today at our loss. Thanks for letting me share

From Jack E. Brannum Class of '51, Russell High School:

I knew Bob in our growing up years in Russell, Kan. He was four years younger than myself, but since I palled around with his brother, Richard, I had almost continual contact with Bob. My experiences with him could only be described as enjoyable and left me with the opinion that he was a "good guy."

It is a sad thing that I lost all contact with him after I graduated from Russell High in 1951. It is with a great feeling of loss and sadness that I did not maintain a relationship with him over the years. I must say that he came by his caring and giving ways honestly. His father, Alva, was one of the finest men I ever knew. To his family, I send my most sincere and heartfelt condolences. May the memories of his many accomplishments, friends, and love for his fellow man, comfort you in this time of sorrow. God Bless

From Vicky and Rex Howard, Overland Park:

Our search for the perfect place to build a home led us to Alvamar and Bob Billings. We left Lawrence for Overland Park 20 years ago and in 2001 decided it was time to return home. A few minutes with Bob and we felt we had met a kindred spirit. His love for KU and Lawrence was palpable and reminded us of why we were returning.

Upon finalizing our building plans we celebrated the moment with Bob who smiled and said "The Jayhawk is finally coming home." He was excited to familiarize us with our new community and, in the short time we knew him, introduced us to many wonderful people who will now be our friends and neighbors. This spring, the Jayhawk will indeed be coming home, but it is with heavy hearts that we realize home would have been a better place with Bob in it. We'll remember his smile, his kindness, his generosity and the love he shared with his beautiful wife, Beverly. His was a life well lived and a life that will be deeply missed.

From Judy Krueger, Lawrence:

We've lost a dear friend. Even people who didn't know Bob have lost a friend because he invested his energies into making Lawrence (and Kansas) a place where people would have the opportunity to live their dreams. The cultivating he did has prepared the ground for generations to come to grow and prosper. He championed young people, old people, and people in between, but Bob never wanted the limelight. He preferred to set the scene so others could achieve. If there was a person in need, Bob would suddenly appear -- or, more likely, his gestures of kindness would appear anonymously. Bob was ever optimistic; his energy was contagious; and we can only hope his spirit will live on in each of us. Rock Chalk, Jayhawk: we love you.

From Ben H. Barteldes, Perry:

If Bob Billings' jersey is not retired ASAP, this ceremony at KU will lose its meaning.

From Mike Eiffert, Naples, Fla.:

I was saddened to hear about the untimely death of Bob Billings.

One would be hard-pressed to name a person who had more of an impact on the recent history of Lawrence than Bob Billings.

Hopefully, the city leaders will acknowledge this contribution with an appropriate memorial.

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