Doris Margaret Billingsley
Doris Margaret (Bunker) Billingsley of Newark, Delaware, died peacefully surrounded by family and friends on March 14, 2012, at the Heartland Hospice House in Wilmington, Delaware.
Doris was born November 17, 1919, in Orillia, Ontario, Canada, the second daughter of Maude Beatrice (Willey) Bunker and William Amos Bunker of Orillia. Doris was educated in Orillia schools, then studied and taught violin in Toronto, Ontario, where she graduated from the Toronto Conservatory of Music. She later worked as a proofreader at the Orillia Packet & Times newspaper.
She married John G. S. (Jack) Billingsley in Orillia on November 22, 1941. During Jack’s three and one-half years overseas during World War II, Doris worked as a bookkeeper for the Bennett Construction Company and volunteered with a church organization that assisted off-duty military personnel.
After Jack’s discharge in 1945, he and Doris moved to Kingston, Ontario, where their four children were born. The family later moved to Northfield, Vermont, for two years before settling in Newark, Delaware, in 1956.
While her children were growing up, Doris volunteered her time and talent as a Brownie Scout leader, 4-H sewing teacher, and reading volunteer in the Christina School District. She served as a Sunday School teacher and superintendent of the Sunday School program at the Newark Presbyterian Church. She and Jack were active members of the church’s Crossroads adult education class and traveled extensively with the Crossroads group.
Doris also worked as a teacher’s aide at the Governor Bacon Health Center, where she became interested in the field of special education. With her characteristic quiet determination, she completed her GED, then enrolled as a full-time student at the University of Delaware. She graduated with honors, receiving a BS in Education in 1976.
She worked as a special education teacher and educational diagnostician at the Gauger-Cobbs school in the Christina School District for many years, forming close bonds with many of the children she taught.
Doris was an avid birdwatcher and participated in many birding field trips. She was a longtime member and active supporter of the Delaware Nature Society. After she retired from teaching, she enjoyed sharing her love of nature with others as a volunteer guide at the Ashland Nature Center in Hockessin. She took great delight in observing and identifying flowers, birds, and butterflies.
She was an active member of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Newark, where she served on the Caring Committee and as the first coordinator of the Hope Dining Room program. She was a caring and steadfast friend to many.
Doris was a member of the American Association of University Women, the Wilmington Trail Club, the Newark Senior Center, and the Newark Country Club. She was also a longtime member of the Bunker Family Association and enjoyed attending the annual gatherings of the extended Bunker clan.
Doris is predeceased by her mother and father; a sister, Ruth Holden; and her eldest daughter, Brenda Billingsley. She is survived by sister Mary Lahay of Orillia; her husband of 70 years, John G. S. Billingsley; son Michael Cerulli Billingsley of Brattleboro, VT; daughter Patricia Billingsley and husband, John Merritt, of Williamsburg, MA; daughter Susan Schneider and husband, Donald Byrd, of Bloomington, IN; grandchildren Ronn Mercer, Zephyr Cerulli, Andrew Smith, Philip Haussmann, Michael, Anna, and Daniel Merritt, and Victoria and Alec Byrd; and great grandchildren Jarod and Darien Smith, Kiley Mercer, Ari Jorgenson, and William Merritt.
A memorial service will be held at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Newark, 420 Willa Road, Newark, Delaware, 19711, on Saturday, March 24, 2012, at 11 am.
Contributions in Doris’s memory may be made to the Delaware Nature Society, c/o Ashland Nature Center, PO Box 700, Hockessin, DE 19707; or the Endowment Fund of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Newark at the address above.