John A. Billman
Billman, John A. Beloved Husband, Father, Grandfather and Uncle Age 92, of Plymouth, MN. John passed away peacefully at home surrounded by his adoring children, family, and friends on March 16, 2012. John lived a full and extraordinary life. Preceded in death by his wife of 60 years, Katharine Daniels Billman, parents Joseph E. and Vera S. Billman, sisters Eunice and Dorothy. John was born on December 1, 1919 in NE Minneapolis, attended Thomas Lowry grade school and Edison High. John was a tremendous athlete and played football in high school and varsity football for the University of Minnesota from 1939 - 1942 as a guard under coach Bernie Bierman - winning two national championships. This elite group of football players is still known today as "The Bernie Boys." While attending the U of M, John joined Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE) fraternity. On January 1, 1943, John played in the East-West Shrine football game in San Francisco; blocking for Bruce Smith who was awarded the Heisman trophy and winning the game 13 to 12. John graduated in 1943 from the U of M with a BA in Liberal Arts and Associates Degree in Mortuary Science. In 1941, John joined the Navy V7 program and received orders for active duty the morning after his graduation. He trained in Motor Torpedo Boat Operations and served as a PT boat captain with Squadron 9 in the South Pacific. John was discharged in May of 1946. Returning to Minneapolis, he was recruited by the Brooklyn Dodgers and Chicago Rockets NFL teams. After a brief career in the NFL, John joined his father in the mortuary business and grew the business to include funeral chapels in Wayzata, Minneapolis, and St. Louis Park. In 1948, John married the love of his life, Katharine (Kit) Daniels from Long Lake, MN. The same year, John joined the Naval Reserve as a Personnel Officer and was recalled to active duty and served 1950-52 at Whidbey Island, WA and Kodiak, Alaska. John retired from Naval reserves in 1970 as a Commander. John and Kit raised three children in St. Louis Park, MN. John retired from his business in 1983, and he and Kit moved to their home on Medicine Lake in Plymouth. It was there John became an accomplished gardener. In 2006, John and Kit moved to 7500 York in Edina and following Kit's passing in 2008, John moved to Summerwood of Plymouth. John was an extremely thrifty and generous person. He was an active philanthropist who also gave of his heart and time to his community and alma mater, the University of Minnesota where he and Kit established several scholarship and fellowship programs supporting athletics, international studies, Navy ROTC, horticulture, and cancer research. John was very active in his community and was a member and served leadership roles in the St. Louis Park Rotary, Lions, American Legion, VFW, West Suburban Shrine Club, Paul Revere Masonic Lodge, Jaycees and Scottish Rite. John was a direct descendent of the Mayflower on his mother's side. His true love was international travel and he and Kit traveled the world together. John has now rejoined his beloved Kit to continue their journey together. John is survived by his children, Katharine B. Fiorentino (John), Jennifer Redmond (Roger), James Billman (Silvia); grandchildren Claudia and Gabriella Billman, Roger Jr. and Ryan Redmond and Maria Silvina Miranda Willhuber and many nieces, nephews and relatives. Heartfelt thank-you's to Dad's caring 5 West team of nurses and assistants at Methodist Hospital, Methodist Hospital Hospice and BrightStar caregivers. Funeral Service 11 AM Wednesday at First Christian Church (NEW ADDRESS) 610 W. 28th St., Minneapolis MN 55408, fccminneapolis.org. Visitation 5-7 PM Tuesday TONIGHT at Gearty- Delmore Plymouth Chapel, 15800 37th Ave. N. at Vicksburg Lane and one hour prior to service at church. Private interment, Hillside Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be directed to the University of Minnesota International Programs or YMCA Camp Menogyn. Gearty-Delmore Plymouth 763-553-1411
Published on March 18, 2012
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