Miriam and Jim Billings
Jim and Miriam Billings met when they were in graduate school in 1955. After seven years of corresponding, they decided to ‘take the plunge’ and were married on August 27, 1962. Their lives together were filled with family activities, interesting travels and the pursuit of knowledge, professional achievements and a strong, shared passion for helping others.
Both of them had been affected and shaped by the Great Depression. Jim, originally from Arkansas, had worked to support his family throughout much of the Depression, struggling to finish high school. After serving in the Navy during WWII, he used the GI Bill to attend college, earned
a PhD and went on to be a nuclear physicist and university
Miriam was a Registered Nurse and worked in several different hospitals, including the old Carrie Tingley Hospital for Crippled Children as it was called then, in Hot Springs, now Truth or Consequences, from 1949 to 1952. After earning her Master’s degree, she taught nursing also at several colleges and universities.
Jim’s sense of social justice led him to spend time with the Quakers in Santa Fe in the late 1950’s. Miriam’s desire to help and her nursing skills led her to volunteer at a leprosarium in Ecuador when the family was living there. Both of them worked with a number of programs relating to hunger relief, housing and disaster assistance. For years they volunteered at an orphanage and soup kitchen across the border from their home in Del Rio, Texas.
Jim and Miriam promised themselves that they would retire in Las Cruces, a community they had great affection for going all the way back to the 1940s. In 2001, they kept that promise and made Las Cruces home. Over the next ten years, they traveled and visited locations throughout southern New Mexico. Miriam passed away in November 2010 and Jim joined her soon after in March 2011.
The Billings family is making this $5,000 matching donation to mark what would have been Jim and Miriam’s 50th wedding anniversary. In the words of their daughter, they chose Roadrunner Food Bank “as a fitting tribute because it helps such a large number of people and spans such a broad area, including many places my parents enjoyed spending time together. I thought it would be a very fitting tribute for this milestone anniversary.”