Edward A. "Deke" Billings

Edward Adams “Deke” Billings, passed away peacefully in Manassas, Virginia on September 3, 2022 at the age of 94. He lived in over 40 locations, and, in recent years, his number of residences occupied exceeded the number of cars that he had owned. Notable locations were Amherst, Massachusetts, 1955–1958; 1961-1962; Brookfield-Randolph area, Vermont, 1968-1974 and Juneau, Alaska, 1974 – 1982.

He is survived by his wife, Grace A. Billings (Dresser), married June 11, 1955, and his two sons, Jonathan (Tish) and Ethan (Brandi) and three granddaughters, Anna & Zoey and Tatum. He is also survived by a sister, Carolyn “Canna” (Billings) Falby. He was preceded in death by his son, Peter King Billings, in 2005.

He obtained the Western handle, “Deke” (short for Deacon as his father was a minister) from the ranch hands at his Aunt Grace’s Elkhorn Ranch in Bozeman, Montana during the summer that he worked there. He delighted in his nickname and encouraged all to use it.

He was born Dean Ellsworth Buell on May 15, 1928, in Athol, Mass. He was adopted at the age of two and given his lifelong name by the Reverend Osmond J. Billings and Rena L. Billings (Nutting). He sought out the Buell Family later in life, in search of his mother, Edna Buell Foster. He had a strong relationship with the Buells, particularly his half-brother Willard Foster, cousin Larry Buell and Willard’s son, David Foster, up until the end.

His first love career-wise was for commercial transportation serving as a flight attendant for Capital Airlines (now part of United) and ticket agent for American and Mohawk Airlines; railroad (Amtrak) and ferry reservations (Alaska

Marine Highway) specialist; and various bus and tour companies. There is even rumor that he drove a taxi before the days of Uber and Lyft.

He also held elementary and secondary teaching assignments in Massachusetts, Vermont and New Hampshire,from 1961 – 1973, including a stint as an elementary school principal. He taught two of his sons in7th grade English.

He was a 1961 graduate, with a major in history and minor in library science, of Western State College (now Western

Colorado University), Gunnison, Colo., of which he was a proud alumnus.He had the uncanny ability to connect people and places. If you met Deke for the first time, he could usually link someone you knew to a place or another person that was known to both parties. He would invariably end any story, joke or explanation with the phrase, “and so on and so forth…”

He will be laid to rest in the North Amherst (E. Pleasant St.) Cemetery, in Massachusetts, next to his son Peter.

A Celebration of Life will take place at Beers & Story South Hadley Funeral Home, 646 Newton Street, South Hadley, Mass. at 1pm on Saturday, November 12, 2022. Anyone wishing to contact the family please email: graceabillings@gmail.com or write Ethan Billings PO Box 35761, Juneau, Alaska 99803.