Obituary for Frank Billings Sr.
Frank Edward Billings, Sr. passed away peacefully, surrounded by loved ones, on Friday, April 7, 2017.
Frank was born on Christmas Eve in 1936 in San Antonio, Texas, the second of four children born to Norman Adolph Billings and Cora Vivian Henderson Billings. At the time his family lived in Lytle, Texas, where his father was the school superintendent. They made several more moves, eventually settling in Nixon, Texas. Frank graduated from Nixon High School in 1955 and attended The University of Texas at Austin, where he served in the ROTC.
After graduating with a bachelor's degree in engineering route to business in 1960, he was commissioned as an ensign in the United States Navy. He was first stationed out of Port Hueneme, California, and served aboard the USS Bonhomme Richard and the USS Norton Sound, a missile tender ship on which he participated in the 1962 nuclear tests in the Pacific Ocean. He achieved the rank of lieutenant JG and spent summers as an instructor at Officer Candidate School in Rhode Island.
After completing his naval service in Beeville, Texas, Frank attended The University of Texas Law School in Austin. It was during law school that he met the love of his life, Theo Marsh Min-turn, whom he married in December 1965, just before his law school graduation. He worried he had failed the Texas bar exam, but to his great surprise found instead that he had the highest score in the state, a fact he loved to remind his daughter of after she took, and passed, the bar exam with a score well shy of the highest.
Theo and Frank moved to Houston in 1966, where he began practicing law with the firm of Hinds and Meyer, specializing in admiralty and maritime law. His distinguished legal career spanned more than 40 years and culminated with the founding of Billings, Solomon, Martini & Fletcher. Many of his clients became friends and trusted him with their legal work for decades. One of the highlights of his career was Billings v. Concordia Heritage Association, Inc., when he and two friends tried to have the remains of Texas gunslinger John Wesley Hardin moved from El Paso to Nixon. Although ultimately unsuccessful, he loved recounting his part in the showdown.
Frank was committed to serving his community. He volunteered with the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo for 30+ years, achieving Lifetime Committeeman status, and served on the Zoning Board of Adjustments for the City of West University Place. He coached his children's baseball and softball teams and was actively involved for many years in West University Meth-odist Church.
He loved every minute of being a lawyer in Houston, but his heart was forever in small-town Texas. He spent as many weekends as he could at his ranch outside Nixon, tending to his Red Poll cattle and the fences they broke on a routine basis. He earned a private pilot's license and delighted his family with trips in his 4-seater Piper airplane. He spent many chilly mornings dur-ing hunting season in a deer blind with his son or hunting ducks with friends and his loyal Lab-rador Retriever, Rodney. He camped, fished, traveled, and spent every other free moment with a book in his hands, usually a Louis L'Amour or W.E.B. Griffin novel. Typically he would read two to three books at the same time, staging them in his car, house and office such that he was never without one.
While Frank loved his cows, his legal work and his books, his greatest joy by far came from time spent with family and friends. "Uncle Dada’s" lasting legacy for all who had the opportunity to know him was his devotion. Family and friends could do no wrong in his eyes.
He was preceded in death by his parents; father-in-law, Louis W. Minturn; mother-in-law, Theo West Minturn; and his nephew, Mark Edward Billings. He is survived by his wife of 51 years, Theo Minturn Billings; his children, Frank Edward Billings, Jr. of Houston, and Tracey Billings Cobb and husband Marshall of Monteverde, Costa Rica; the grandsons he adored, Frank Ed-ward Billings III ("Trey"), Nicholas James Cobb, and Holden Thomas Cobb; sisters Norma Jean Fink and Karen Johnson; brother Fred Billings; and numerous nieces and nephews.
A visitation will take place Monday, April 10, 2017 from 5:00pm to 8:00pmat Finch Funeral Chapel, Nixon.
Tuesday, April 11, 2017
First United Methodist Church, Nixon
Pastor Rhonda Troll will officiate at the service. Interment will follow in the Nixon Cemetery. If desired, memorial contributions may be made in Frank’s name to the First United Methodist Church of Nixon, 410 N Franklin Ave, Nixon, TX 78140, or to the Nixon Cemetery Association, PO Box 427, Nixon, TX 78140.