Rita Shilling Billingsley
August 25, 1935 – June 2, 2019
Rita Shilling Billingsley DOB 8/25/35 Mom spoke very little about her childhood but did tell us the story about her Father. At the time when Hitler gained power, they took her Father, Emil, to serve in the German Army. She despised Hitler and all he stood for. She spoke of vivid memories, hiding at times for days in the turnip cellar with her siblings. No word from her Father she loved and missed terribly until finally news of his death. She always said with pride “I was his favorite”. The loss of her Father was otherwise difficult for her to talk about. She worked in the fields alongside her Mother and older sister, attending school through 8th grade; the equivalent of high school in the US. Her Mother was a housewife and homemaker. The memories of her Mother were painful, feeling many times unloved and unwanted as a child, another traumatic memory she lived with all her life. One day she went out on a blind date, a couples date, with a young man in the US Army, Earl Alston (JR). They went out on dates every chance they could, quickly fell in love and married. What a good-looking couple they made! Gary, was the first child, born in Germany and her favorite. “He had such beautiful long curly hair” she would boast. She enjoyed being a wife and new mother. One day JR announced they would be stationed in Ft. Benning, Georgia. A year later Steven was born. “He was a little corker” she would tell the neighbors. She loved her new life in America, but was thrilled when Army transfer papers came in and back to her homeland, Germany, they went. Then in 1969, a return move to the States was ordered and Ft Hood, Texas was the final destination. She taught herself to read and write English, became a US citizen, and for years worked and cooked for her beloved family. Unfortunately, she and JR divorced. Several years later she met and married Walter Billingsley, a Warrant Officer in the US Army. She took a cake decorating class and would often host what she called the “coffee clutch”; a group of Officer’s wives who would gather monthly at various homes for cake, coffee and gossip! She had outlived most all of these lifelong friends. She enjoyed baking cakes but refused to share her recipes, afraid someone would try to steal her recipes and share with others as if they were their own! Walt would say “she’s the best cook and best baker all in one”. She had only one Grandchild, Steven’s daughter, Desirae. Walt and “Oma” loved spending time with Desi and would see her every chance they could. In most recent years she enjoyed seeing her great grandsons, Brody and Aydenn. She was quite content with the frequent visits and outings with her son Steven and daughter-in-law, Becky. The bond was evident to others and the loving friendship acknowledged and conveyed during the nightly phone calls. Each call would end with the repetition of the endearing “Ich liebe dich” for “I love you” and “Gute Nacht” for good night, in German. Walt passed away approximately 19 years ago and Mom had been living proudly and independently alone in Killeen ever since. She missed him and she missed her older sister and wanted to be with them again. The last day of her life she did everything she wanted to do that was important to her; she slept in her own bed, she was in her own home, told stories of her life and ate Pfeifer’s German pastries! She passed away on her terms and her way! That was Mom. DOD 6/2/19
- Gary Alston, Son
- Steven and Becky Alston, Son & Daughter-in-law
- Granddaughter Desirae and great-grandsons Brody and Aydenn.
Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery
- Gathering Saturday, June 15, 2019