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Dewey County Obituary
Miscellaneous Obits

Ray Verne Billingsley, PhD

October 5, 1927 - March 3, 2014

(permission granted)
Submitted by: Ann Weber

Dr. Ray Verne Billingsley, professor emeritus, formerly of College Station, Texas, died March 3, 2014, in Vici, Okla. He was 86 years-old.

Dr. Billingsley was born Oct. 5, 1927, to Emeth Lee and Edith May McAfee Billingsley in the family farmhouse near Mutual. He was reared on the homestead and began his education in a one-room country school named Pleasant Valley, District 40. He lettered in basketball, was active in 4-H, the 4-H Victory Project and graduated valedictorian from Mutual High School.

He entered the agricultural economics program at Oklahoma A&M College (now Oklahoma State University). Billingsley lettered in ROTC rifle team and was an active member of FarmHouse Fraternity. He completed his bachelor of science in agriculture in 1949 while maintaining memberships in Pi Gamma Mu for social science, Phi Sigma Pi for biology, Alpha Zeta for agriculture and Phi Kappa Phi honorary scholastic fraternity as a student consistently in the top 10 percent of his class. Each semester, he made the Dean's List.

Billingsley continued his education at Oklahoma A&M and earned a master of science in agricultural economics in 1952. While working toward his master's degree, Billingsley became an instructor in the Department of Agriculture Economics.

Three other important events occurred while he was at Stillwater. He married the love of his life, Nadine Young, on Dec. 23, 1950, in the First Methodist Church, Geary, Okla. They were married more than 63 years. Billingsley also received a fellowship in 1951 with the Foundation for Economic Education and the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway System. Then, in June 1952, the couple welcomed their first child, Leonard James.

That year, Billingsley was appointed as a research associate to the Department of Agricultural Economics at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, N.C. He completed his Ph.D. in Agricultural Economics in 1955. While in Raleigh, Dennis Lee was born. Later that year, Billingsley was appointed assistant professor in the Department of Agricultural Economics at Texas Technological University in Lubbock; he was promoted to associate professor in 1958. In 1959, the University of Chicago received a Ford Foundation grant which supported Billingsley as a visiting professor of economics. He was assigned to the University of Rangoon, Burma, where he developed an honors course in agricultural economics. However, in 1962, a coup d'etat occurred in Burma, followed by riots at Rangoon University. The student union building was destroyed and the Billingsley family was forced to leave Burma. They returned to Lubbock where their only daughter, Sandra Reneé, was born.

Billingsley completed the fall semester at Texas Tech. In early 1963, he became chief of the Trade Section of the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations in Rome, Italy. In 1965, he was invited to become a professor in the Department of Agricultural Economics at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas. Soon afterward, he earned tenure. His duties included teaching production economics, agricultural farm policy and international agricultural economic development. While at Texas A&M, he organized economic development projects in Argentina, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Uruguay and other countries.

In 1974, he took a two-year leave of absence to serve as deputy director of the agricultural division in the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific of the United Nations in Bangkok, Thailand.

Upon returning to Texas A&M in 1977, Billingsley continued to teach and conduct research in Ethiopia, Syria, Pakistan, Liberia and other countries.

In 1981, Billingsley retired from Texas A&M and was named head of the Department of Rural Development at the Bunda College of Agriculture at the University of Malawi in Lilongwe, Malawi. He oversaw the operations of the university's largest department, and served as project manager for a United Nation's development project. As project manager, he was responsible for supporting research, teaching and training of 55 University of Malawi faculty members to the master and Ph.D. levels at leading universities in the United States, Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom.

Upon completion of this assignment, Billingsley joined a University of Texas consortium in 1986 and was assigned to teach micro- and macro-economics theory courses to Malaysian students at Majlis Amanah Rakyat (MARA) University of Technology at Shah Alam, Selangor, Malaysia. Students who completed the program were eligible to enroll in the consortium's participating universities.

Billingsley's final overseas project was as a consultant to the Chinese Agricultural Research Agency in Harabin, China in 1999.

Billingsley told his daughter that the most rewarding aspect of his professional career was teaching international students, because, “they studied harder and took [his] knowledge back to their home country in order to help their own countrymen.” While in College Station, Billingsley also became active for several decades in the International Association of Lions Clubs, St. Thomas Episcopal Church and the Senior Core of Retired Executives (SCORE).

After retirement, he and Nadine traveled extensively to Japan, China, Peru, Mexico, Thailand and other countries. Some of the trips also included in-depth genealogical research in England, Ireland, Wales and Scotland. They also spent time exploring the United States, visiting family members, friends and colleagues.

Although he enjoyed four decades of international travel, Billingsley always wanted to go home to the farm where he was born. He made multiple trips each year for more than a decade to the family homestead where his brother, Elmer, still farmed. During his visits, Billingsley almost always stayed until after attending church so he could visit lifelong friends before returning to College Station. He farmed a quarter section for several years until it became apparent Frontotemporal dementia was affecting him.

Billingsley is survived by his wife, Nadine Young; his older brother, Elmer James; two sons, Leonard James and Dennis Lee; and a daughter, Sandra Reneé and her husband, Robert A. Phillips. He also has three granddaughters and one grandson.

The family extends its sincerest appreciation to the Summit at Lakeway in Austin, Lidden Aero Center, Inc., in Liberal, Kan., the medical staff at The City of Vici Nursing Home, Kerrie Stubbs with Faith Hospice in Elk City, Okla., and Shaw Funeral Home in Vici.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to The Alzheimer's Association Headquarters, 225 N. Michigan Ave., Floor 17, Chicago, Ill., 60601, (800) 272-3900 or alz.org. Donations also may be made to United Methodist Church, P.O. Box 5, Mutual, Okla., 73853; or to the OSU FarmHouse Fraternity, 305 S. Monroe St., Stillwater, Okla., 74074, (405) 372-7264. Saturday March 22nd

Dr. Ray V. Billingsley -- 1:00 p.m. Memorial services will be held in the United Methodist Church, Mutual, Oklahoma.

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