John E. Billington
October 8, 1930 – February 6, 2020
John Elmer Billington, born October 8, 1930, died Thursday, February 6, 2020, after a brief illness. Born in Francis, Oklahoma, John was raised in Kingsport, Tennessee and lived in Memphis for the latter half of his life. John committed his life to Christ and was baptized on July 6, 1941, and his obedience to Christ and His teachings was evident in the way he lived. John did not waver in displaying kindness, humility, gratitude, humor, and patience with others on a daily basis. He trusted the Lord and remained content, thankful, and encouraging to others despite hardships and the many changes that life brought.
He is survived by his daughter Darla Warren (Joe) of Piperton, son David Billington (Cathy) of Allen, TX, grandchildren Marley and Jeremy Billington and Ellie and Winnie Sisk, and other extended family. He was preceded in death by his parents, Elmer Lucas Billington and Laura Rena Bickle, his sister Laurena Hoover and his wife of 50 years, Jeane Billington.
After graduating from Carson-Newman College, he earned Master’s degrees in Physical Education, Religious Education, and Counseling from Springfield College, Southwestern Seminary, and Memphis State University, respectively.
John was an ordained minister and served as the director of several Baptist Student Unions for 38 years, retiring in 1996 from the BSU at UT Memphis. He also served as director at Virginia Tech and UT Martin. In Memphis, he was a member of Second Baptist Church, most recently attended East Shelby Church of Christ, and previously attended Advent Presbyterian Church.
The family expresses special gratitude for his loving caregivers and friends at The Arbors at Schilling Gardens in Collierville where John resided for several years.
In lieu of flowers, you may honor his memory with a donation to Brinkley Heights Urban Academy, via their website bhua.org, or to The Medical Missions Fund of The Baptist Collegiate Ministry of Memphis, 757 Court Avenue, Memphis, TN 38105 (where John was Director for 24 years).
A visitation will be held Sunday, February 9, 2020 from 1:00pm to 2:00pm with a funeral service to follow at Memphis Funeral Home and Memorial Gardens.
- Elmer Lucas Billington and Laura Rena Bickle, Parents (deceased)
- Laurena Hoover, Sister (deceased)
- Jeane Billington, Wife of 50 years (deceased)
- Darla Warren (Joe), Daughter
- David Billington (Cathy), Son
- Marley and Jeremy Billington, Grandchildren
- Ellie and Winnie Sisk, Grandchildren
- He also leaves other extended family.
- Brinkley Heights Urban Academy
The Medical Missions Fund of The Baptist Collegiate Ministry of Memphis (where John was Director for 24 years)
757 Court Avenue, Memphis, TN 38105
- Visitation Sunday, February 9, 2020
- Funeral Service Sunday, February 9, 2020
John E. Billington
February 20, 2020
After I arrived as a freshman on the Virginia Tech campus in the fall of 1967, I discovered the Baptist Student Union, then lead by Director John Billington. Over my years at VT, the experiences I had in the BSU became much more important to me than any class I took. So many wonderful life long friendships were made in that organization, and my faith was strengthened deeply during the time of John's leadership. I struggled with whether God was calling me to ministry - which at that time was almost unheard of for women - and while it took me almost 20 years to finally answer that call, it was my time at the BSU that put me on that search for what God was calling me to do in my life. The result was 24 years of pastoral ministry in the Church of the Brethren, the denomination of my birth. Darla and David, your father was a kind, thoughtful man whose influence was great in his position as a BSU director. I know he loved you both deeply and I pray that you will find comfort with good memories of both your father and mother during this time of sorrow. Below I have included my favorite picture of your father.
February 15, 2020
What a great impact you had on my life! Through the BSU in Memphis I made the best friends of a life time. You made the BSU possible. Thanks so much. Love and admiration for eternity.
Steve Smith DDS
February 8, 2020
Dear family, I celebrate John's life with you. He was a deeply caring, committed servant of our Lord who blessed many lives including my own. Praying for you in your loss.