Cover photo for James Billey's Obituary
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1935 James 2022

James Billey

September 23, 1935 — October 5, 2022

James Oscar Billey, 87 of Ellendale, ND died at his home in Ellendale on October 5, 2022. James was born September 23, 1935, in Aberdeen, SD to Harold and Lucy (Warnick) Billey. Jim attended high school in Ellendale, graduating in 1953. He attended Ellendale Normal and Technical School for one year, then transferring to the University of North Dakota where he graduated in 1957 with a degree in Civil Engineering. Jim spent the next 5 years working as an engineer in Grand Forks and Minot, after which he moved to Washington, DC to attend law school at George Washington University. While attending law school he began working for Senator Milton R. Young (R-ND), where after 2 years he became Senator Young’s Legislative Assistant. On December 28, 1963 he married Dianne R. Miller in the Hettinger Lutheran Church in Hettinger, ND. After completing law school and passing the ND Bar Exam, the couple moved back to ND for Jim to farm with his father on the Billey family farm. After years of raising cattle as well as grain, Jim switched to raising sheep and joined the ND Lamb and Wool Producers organization, and in 1986 he was chosen as the Master Sheep Producer of the year. After his years of raising livestock, Jim was chosen to be a member on the ND Board of Animal Health for a 6-year term. Although the family farm was his chief interest, Jim quickly became involved in the community and his church. One of his families’ interests had always been healthcare. Jim became a member of the Ellendale Hospital Board of Directors where he served for 20 years, many of them as President. He aided in hauling the bricks from the railroad for the construction of the hospital and was instrumental in the conversion into The Evergreen Place which continues to benefit the community. Jim was a dedicated member of Christ the King Lutheran Church and served in a variety of roles over his lifetime including 3 different terms on the church council, one as treasurer. Jim strongly believed that quality of life should be possible for all and would do whatever he could to improve that quality. He began donating blood through the influence of a teacher while in high school and continued this practice until he was diagnosed with cancer in the summer of 2022. At the time of his last donation, he had donated 474 times for a total of 59.25 gallons of whole blood and platelets. In addition to his donations, he was a volunteer driver who moved supplies and blood throughout the system and traveled over 100,000 miles. After his formal retirement from farming, he downsized and continued the tradition of gardening passed on from his mother. In addition to all the produce used by his family he shared his bounty with many throughout the community and in recent years had begun donating to the Emergency Food Pantry in Fargo. Since 2015 his donations of vegetables had totaled 14,266 pounds. Jim served many years on the Dickey County Social Services Board and the Health District Board. Jim served 9 years on the ND AARP Board of Government Affairs. In 2013 he was awarded the ND AARP’s highest award for service, the AARP Andrus Award. Grateful for sharing his life are his wife Dianne, Ellendale, ND; sons Lloyd, Fargo, ND and Mark, Frederick, SD; step grandchildren, Richard & Jaiden Handrigan, Providence, RI; sister-in-law Bonnie Smith, Hettinger, ND; and many nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents Harold and Lucy Billey. The memorial service is 11am Saturday, October 15, 2022 at Christ the King Lutheran Church, Ellendale with Pastor Lucinda Lien officiating. Burial is at South Savo Lutheran Cemetery, rural Frederick, SD. In lieu of flowers, please send donations to Kedish House, Global Health Ministries or donate blood or platelets. Memorials sent to the family will be distributed to these organizations. Jim’s service will be live streamed on his obituary page at hovenfuneralchapel.com Arrangements by Hoven Funeral Chapel, Ellendale. Vitalent will be holding the Ellendale Community blood drive at the Church of the Nazarene on Wednesday October 19th, 2022 from 1:00 to 6:00pm. Please come donate as Vitalent honors Jim’s years of donations and volunteer service.
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