Howard Daulton Billey was born August 22, 1938 in Bennington, Oklahoma to Carl and Pauline (Nance) Billey. A few short hours after his 80th birthday, he was granted his wish to follow the path of the family who went before him and he left this world on August 23, 2018 in San Antonio, Texas Howard lived in southeastern Oklahoma as a young child, but the family was still struggling from the effects of the Great Depression and they moved to Richmond, California in 1943 so that his parents could find work. They later moved to Madera County in 1947 and eventually settled in Chowchilla. Howard attended the Dairyland School near Chowchilla where he excelled in sports, especially baseball and basketball.
As a young man, he enlisted in the United States Navy where he made his first career. Howard was stationed at many bases across the US, eventually ending up on the west coast. He was a drill instructor in San Diego, California for a time before moving to the specialty of Naval Aviation. His tours of duty took him many places on different ships including the USS Queen Mary and the USS Roosevelt but his favorites were the USS Oriskany and the USS Forrestal. He was very proud of serving his country during the Vietnam War. Even though he was injured while saving a shipmate, he continued his climb with the Navy and eventually retired as a Chief Petty Officer/Aviation Ordinance Chief.
Howard was a proud member of the Choctaw Nation and his heritage, so after retiring, he felt it was time to return to his Oklahoma roots. The family lived in Del City with his sister, Cat, and her family for a month until he and the kids moved to Durant, Oklahoma where he enrolled at Southeastern Oklahoma State University. Howard attended college full time and also worked full time at night to support his family. He earned his Bachelors Degree in Education and accepted a position at Reydon School in 1980 where he taught at the Elementary School. During this time, he also attended Southwestern Oklahoma State University and attained his Masters of Education. Due to the continuing pain of the injury he suffered in the Navy, Howard knew he needed to be in a warmer climate so he moved to San Antonio and continued to teach. When his mother’s health began to fail, he returned to California to be near her and remained there until she passed away in 1985. He then went back to San Antonio to make his home where he taught until retiring again and lived out the remainder of his life.
Howard loved motorcycles, cars, music and sports. His love of baseball was a constant throughout his life. He played minor league baseball for a short time but later turned that love towards teaching others. He instilled that passion for baseball in his sons and coached many, many players from Pee Wee to Majors . Howard was thrilled and proud about resurrecting the baseball program at Reydon. He was also an accomplished musician and was very proficient at playing both the guitar and cornet. When he was home from tours, he spent hours with his children sitting in front of him as he played songs from the Johnny Cash era as well as all of his kids requests and them begging for more. Later in life, he was thrilled to play the cornet with several Jazz and Blues bands in San Antonio. Howard was a self proclaimed “Jack of All Trades, Master of None”, He had many interests but the main focus and love in his life was family. He worked hard at imparting that value to his children and they continue to pass that legacy on with each generation.
Howard was preceded in death by his parents, an infant brother, his beloved sister, Katherine Machnicz; a treasured nephew, Randy Sevedge and very special brothers-in-law, John Machnicz and Terry Sevedge.
He leaves to remember him: his children, Lisa Milligan and husband, Michael , of Sanford, Florida, Lorrie Sumpter and husband, Tony, of Reydon, Oklahoma, Carl David Billey and wife, Terry, of Sayre, Oklahoma, Duane Billey and wife, Linda, of Franklinton, Louisiana; his youngest sister, who has always held a very dear place in his heart, Linda Billey-Sevedge of Santa Maria, California. His grandchildren, who he thought the sun rose and set on; Kristi Sumpter of Reydon, Oklahoma, Alyson Billey of Merritt, Oklahoma, Carey Ann Baird and husband, Ryan, of Sanford, Florida, Ty Billey of Fairview, Oklahoma, Chris Milligan of Sanford, Florida, Justin Billey of Columbus, Ohio, Amanda Billey of Sandusky, Ohio and Abigail Billey of Bogalusa, Louisiana; his great grandchildren, Nathaniel and Abigail Baird of Sanford, Florida, Maleigha Billey of Sandusky, Ohio; his treasured nieces and nephews, John Machnicz, Jr. of Naples, Florida, James Machnicz and wife, Terri of Midwest City, Oklahoma, Robyn Nutt and husband, Randy, of Tuttle, Oklahoma, Regina Renner and husband, Andy, of Tampa, Florida, Martha Rollins and husband, Dean, of Madera, California; many, many loved great nieces, nephews, extended family and friends. Howard’s earthly body was laid to rest on August 30, 2018 in the Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery, San Antonio, Texas. He was surrounded by his family while receiving full military funeral honors with the Patriot Guard Riders of San Antonio standing flagline.
The family respectfully requests that any memorial donations be made to the Reydon American Legion Funeral Food Fund, HWY 30, Reydon, OK, 73660 or the Clinton Veterans Center, ATTN: Nancy Burrow, POB 1209, Clinton, OK, 73601.