Ed Billings was born February 6, 1929 in Vernon, TX to Ray and Louise Billings. He was the middle child of seven children, born in both the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl. Life was difficult for his family, as it was for many living during that time. When Ed was seven years old, his family moved to the farming areas around Anton, TX where Ed graduated from high school.
Sports were his gifts, and he worked hard to attain some levels of achievement in several of them. After graduation from high school, a Wayland Baptist College Coach, Harley Redin, recruited him to play basketball, and baseball. He graduated from college in 1952, and Uncle Sam was pointing his finger at him. He had to refuse the high school coaching job offered to him in the area, and go into the Korean Conflict. After basic training, his outfit was sent to Army Oakland Base in Berkley Hills. Upon signing into his new post, he was tapped on by the Officer on duty to play on their basketball team beginning that night. He scored 28 points and after the game, the Officer called the team together and introduced them to their new player coach. He continued his military career there, reaching his full potential in both basketball and baseball. One highlight outside of sports was being in the ground for the atomic bomb blast in Nevada, and then marching with full gear up to within one-fourth of a mile from it.
After the military he attended Baylor University, and earned a Master’s degree. He coached at Cisco Jr. College for one year, and then returned to his Alma Mater to coach at Wayland Baptist until 1962. In that year he was awarded a Fulbright Lecturer Grant in Lahore, West Pakistan. When he returned to the States, he had been accepted in the doctoral program at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana. He returned to Wayland for two more years as their Athletic Director, after he completed his residence at Indiana University. He earned his degree from Indiana University in 1969.
Ed Billings began his long-term appointment with Houston Baptist in 1966, a newly organized college. He was at HBU until 1990. Ed was a professor and the head of the Department of Health and Physical Education, and the Director of Athletics. He became a charter member of Trans America Athletic Conference and HBU’s various sports teams received many conference championships and national recognitions. His professional memberships were numerous. He was inducted into the Athletic Hall of Honor Inductees at Wayland in 1994, and in 2007 he was inducted into the Houston Baptist University Athletic Department’s Hall of Honor. In conjunction with that he was recognized as a recipient of the Lettermen’s Award in the HBU Walk of Honor.
He married LaVaye Roye in 1952, and they have four children: Duane Scott Billings and his wife Miriam, Renae Norwood and her husband Steve, Sonii Nagel and her husband Charles, Jenny Len Self and her husband Kyle; eight grandchildren: E. Scott Billings, Jordan Billings, Kristin N. Karnes, Amanda N. Miller, Bethany Nagel, Morgan Nagel, Luke Self and Andrew Self, and six great-grandchildren.
Ed Billings’ adult life was full of travel: literally around the world in one year, from Texas to California, Hawaii, Japan, Thailand, India, Bangladesh, Nepal, through the Himalayas to the Khyber Pass where a huge sign says, “Alexander the Great came this way in 350 B.C.” He traveled to Iran, Israel, Rome, Greece, and into Europe and Scandinavian countries, returning through England and New York to Texas with his family. Other great trips were with the HBU Golf teams, the U of H and three other golf teams. He flew twice to Scotland, and played St. Andrews, Kings & Queens, and Camoustie Courses. His trips to Alaska and the real outdoors of the Yukon River, the Bering Strait, and numerous other places with his brother, John Wayne Billings, and his family, were full of adventure.
If there is a rich life for a “boy born in poverty”, it was given to Ed Billings, by the Creator of the Universe, His Heavenly Father.
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