As a volunteer leader, director of various companies, and supporter of local organizations, George Billings ’68 dedicated his life to service in many different ways and embodied the Non Sibi spirit. On August 20, 2021, Billings passed away at the age of 71 due to cancer.
Rob Barber ’68, a friend and classmate of Billings, recounted his shared memories of Andover. Barber believes that Billings led a life of generosity.
“George was forever loyal to Andover, loved the school, and served it through all of his years as an alum… George was a presence, unfailingly optimistic and positive in everything that he did. He extended himself for Andover and for classmates of all kinds. Kindness and generosity in act and deed and in all of the ways that one can be generous, not just with monetary gifts, really describes the guy,” said Barber.
According to the 1968 “Pot Pourri” yearbook, Billings went by the nicknames “O.M. George” and “Geo” while at Andover. He participated in several activities, including French Club, Spanish Club, Sailing Club, and community engagement. During his Upper and Senior years, he was a part of Phillips Society and the French Honor Society. After graduating from Andover in 1968, Billings attended Brown University and later received an MBA from Harvard Business School.
After participating in community engagement at Andover, Billings continued to pursue his love for volunteering as a former co-chair of Andover’s annual giving board. At Brown University, he served as the president of the Brown Alumni Association and led class engagement fundraising activities. He later received the Brown Bear Award, Brown’s highest award for alumni service, according to the obituary published on Chapman Funerals & Cremations.
Besides service leadership, Billings dedicated his life to managing various companies. He served as President of Billings & Co., a management consulting firm serving both Fortune 500 and other development-stage companies, according to the obituary. Billings’ work as a pioneering executive and member of many boards of directors impacted public and private companies throughout the satellite TV industry in the U.S. and Latin America.
Billings also supported several scientific endeavors and local environmental organizations. For example, he championed the Quissett Harbor Preservation Trust, The 300 Committee Land Trust, Salt Pond Area Bird Sanctuaries, and the Woodwell Climate Research Center. He also participated on the Board of Overseers of the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts.
Billings also showed his love for Andover through his recent donation to Andover’s Music Department. The Fidelio Society performed virtually at his Memorial Service, which took place in Woods Hole on September 25, 2021.
In August, Barber organized a Class of 1968 trip to visit Billings before his passing. Barber was accompanied by five classmates: Caleb Warren ’68, Ted Chapin ’68, Charlie Lieberman ’68, Duncan Andrews ’68, and David Johanson ’68. Two others, Gary Meller ’68 and John Barclay ’68, joined the event through Zoom. According to Barber, Billings and his classmates were able to talk, comfort, and bring joy to one another through the meeting.
Barber said, “He was confined to bed at that point, but was thoroughly delighted and moved with the others walking into the room and greeting him…the classmates who have good voices sang a song to him and it was marvelous. It was the song that some of the same classmates and others had sung as part of our 50th reunion remembrance event and it is ‘Rivers of Babylon.’ He had told one of us that he really loved that song. So that’s how it came to be that it was part of the greeting and meeting with George at his bedside. I have to tell you it was magically emotional for everybody who was there. The most important person was George and he seemed to enjoy it and appreciate it.”
Barber believes that this event was an opportunity for several of Billings’ friends to show connection and act on behalf of the Class of ’68.
“All of us, the six who were in the room, the two who were on Zoom, all of us were there as representatives of our entire class and that was important for us to make clear to George and for George to understand—and he did. We all stick together, the Class of ’68,” said Barber.