William Glynn Billingsley, 94, of Goreville, a World War II veteran, farmer, mechanic and genealogist, died November 16, 2012 at his home.
He was born June 22, 1918, at Goreville, Ill., to John W. Billingsley and Nora Idella (Dunn) Billingsley.
He grew up south of Goreville on a farm that became the ranger station, the bluff-top campground and Willow Lake of Ferne Clyffe State Park.
He attended the one-time, one-room Dunntown School near Round Bluff in what is now Ferne Clyffe State Park. He graduated from Goreville Township High School in 1936.
He served in World War II, including a tour of duty in the European Theater, primarily as part of the occupation of Italy. He trained soldiers as marksmen.
He married Almeda Luy in 1941. They later divorced.
He married Pauline Evelyn Kirby August 22, 1948. She preceded him in death January 07, 2003.
He worked as a mechanic for Toledo Scale Inc. of Chicago after the war and later returned to Southern Illinois. He lived in Mounds and Cairo and eventually returned to Goreville where he was co-owner of Billingsley Sundries, commonly referred to as “the Drug Store,” and worked for 25 years as a scale mechanic for Union Carbide, which held the U.S. Department of Energy contract to operate the uranium enrichment plant near Paducah, Ky.
As a farmer, he was among the first to introduce the Simmental beef cattle breed to the area and raised champion bulls after importing top bloodlines from Canada and Ireland, including an Irish national champion Simmental bull. He also raised top-performing steers in university-sponsored feed efficiency tests.
He earlier had developed one of the area’s first confinement hog farrowing operations and introduced the first herd of Specific Pathogen Free — or SPF — branded Yorkshire sows to the area.
In his studies of the Billingsley family history, he traced the family tree to Shropshire and the town of Billingsley in England. The first Billingsley in the New World, Francis Billingsley, landed in Virginia in 1649. The family moved to South Carolina, Tennessee and by 1817 to Southern Illinois, preceding Illinois statehood in 1818. Through his efforts, the family was recognized by the state with an Illinois Prairie Pioneer Certificate for families that settle in Illinois before statehood.
He also was preceded in death by two brothers, Lloyd “Buck” Billingsley and Ogle Billingsley; and sisters, Opal Girtman and Verna Mae Lemming; and a daughter, Beverly Billingsley (Ross).
Survivors include three sons, Glynn “Hap” Billingsley, Chebanse, Ill., and his wife, Karen Billingsley, Roger D. Billingsley, Salinas, Calif., and his wife, Leigh Billingsley, and Gordon L. Billingsley, Overland Park, Kan., and his wife, Mary Jean Billingsley; a daughter, Myra Billingsley of the home; 11 grandchildren; two step-grandchildren, and 11 great-grandchildren.
Funeral services for Mr. Billingsley will be held Monday, November 19, 2012 at 1:00 p.m. at Blue Funeral Home in Goreville. Interment will follow at Busby Cemetery. Visitation will be held on the same day starting at 11:00 a.m. at the funeral home. Memorial donations are suggested to the Alzheimer’s Association or the Epilespsy Foundation. Envelopes will be available during services or may be sent c/o Blue Funeral Home, PO Box 411, Marion, IL 62959.
For more information or to sign the guest register book please visit www.bluefuneralhome.com