Jerry Billings passed away peacefully in his home on February 18, 2015, after a long and full life. He was 88.
Born in Falls City, Nebraska, in 1926, Jerry moved with his family to Portland in 1942 and attended that city’s Washington High School. He enlisted in the U.S. Army at 18 to fight in WWII. Sent to the Pacific theater, he took part in the Battle of Okinawa, earning a Bronze Star and Purple Heart. Jerry was the only member of his platoon to survive. On his return to Portland, he met and married Lorelei Brown, with whom he had three daughters.
In 1962, Jerry went into private practice, a business he maintained for nearly 30 years. After acting as Madeleine Murray O’Hair’s counsel in Oregon in the 1970s, he founded the Oregon chapter of American Atheists, later renamed the Center for Rational Thought and eventually U.S. Atheists. He was the voice of “Dial an Atheist” for more than 20 years and host of the public television program Bunk Busters from 1995 until 2011. His other passion was the collection and cataloging of antique tools, especially early American wood planes.
Jerry is survived by his loving partner for 65 years, Lorelei; daughters Dawn, Melanie, and Nancy; grandchildren Matthew Yun, Remington Powell, and Katherine Powell; great-granddaughter Ava Yun; and beloved caretakers Moana Toloke and her daughter, Vee. He was buried in a private ceremony at Willamette National Cemetery.