George A. Billingslea, 80, genealogy enthusiast

October 16, 2003|By Sheridan Lyons | Sheridan Lyons,SUN STAFF

George A. Billingslea, a history and genealogy enthusiast who headed the Westminster Cemetery Co. for many years, died of pancreatic cancer Oct. 9 at his home in the Oak Crest Village retirement community in Parkville. He was 80.

Born in Westminster of two families with deep generational roots, Mr. Billingslea was a graduate of Westminster High School. He served about six months in the Army at the outbreak of World War II before receiving an honorable medical discharge, said his wife of 57 years, the former Lillian Farmer.

Mr. Billingslea retired 20 years ago as a logistics engineer, first for the Glenn L. Martin Co., then for Westinghouse in Linthicum and Cockeysville.

But his avocation was history and genealogy, and even as he became ill, he traveled repeatedly to Westminster to deliver records of the cemetery that he headed for 13 years, Mrs. Billingslea said.

Last month, Mr. Billingslea asked the Carroll County Genealogical Society to take over a book he had planned to write on the cemetery. Now almost 12 acres in the historic heart of town, the cemetery began in 1790 on 1 acre, he said, where once stood the log cabin Frederick Union Meeting House shared by all the Protestant denominations.

"I gave them maps I had made up, and other information -- all the deeds," he said.

David W. Bearr, who assumed the presidency of the cemetery board last month, said, "George was so organized -- he really was able to hand this over.

"So many groups spend so much time talking without doing anything. The cemetery is what it is because of him," Mr. Bearr said. "There are plans are to dedicate the volume to him."

Mr. Billingslea will be buried at Westminster Cemetery in a private service.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday in the chapel at Oak Crest Village Chapel, 8810 Walther Blvd.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by a son, Robert George Billingslea of Reisterstown; two brothers, Robert K. Billingslea of Hanover, Pa., and Howell H. "Pap" Billingslea of Oak Crest Village; a sister, Ella T. "Penny" Billingslea of Washington; two grandchildren; and a great-grandson.

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