GREENFIELD — The greater Greenfield community was shaken by the loss of a longtime friend and community servant when Susie Billings passed away Monday at the age of 75.
Billings, who was married to former Greenfield city attorney Tom Billings, passed away after a cardiac episode Monday morning.
Friends say Billings had been battling bladder cancer for more than four years, but that she handled it the way she did all things in life — with positivity and grace.
They say she had a servant’s heart right til the end.
Although Billings wasn’t feeling her best, she still worked three consecutive days at last weekend’s Friends of the Library book sale at the Hancock County Public Library in Greenfield. She had just filled out the deposit ticket from the event Monday morning before she passed away.
“She genuinely liked people and wanted to be around them,” said her longtime friend, Susie Broome. “She was dedicated to making the world a better place for everyone.”
Billings’ list of community service runs long, including serving as a board member for the Hancock Health Foundation, Greenfield Parks & Recreation, Friends of the Library and Riley Old Home Society. She was a longtime member of the Hancock Herb Society and Greenfield Tri Kappa chapter and a longtime volunteer with Hancock Meals on Wheels, Women Helping Women and the Kenneth Butler Memorial Soup Kitchen.
She was also a past president of Greenfield Kiwanis.
“There really isn’t an organization in town that she hasn’t touched,” said Broome.
Nancy Davis, director of the Hancock Health Foundation, said Billings’ kind heart and infectious laugh made her loved by many.
“If she was in the room, you wanted to sit by Susie Billings,” said Davis said. “Her wit and charm will be greatly missed.”
Billings was well known for her love of people and playing games, and was part of multiple card clubs.
“She was such a delightful friend who would always make you laugh. Everyone loved her,” said Joy Pope of Greenfield, who played canasta and bridge with Billings nearly every weekend.
Billings was part of two long-running bridge clubs, one of which has been meeting for more than 50 years.
“Wind, rain, hot weather, cold weather, storms, you name it … we still had bridge,” said club member Mary Anne Siurek.
Siurek, Billings and three other club members — Broome, Sarah Davis and Sandy Miller — have been meeting for lunch each Monday for years.
After Billings died this past Monday, the four friends gathered to remember their friend who had a knack for storytelling and making people laugh.
“Susie was one of those people who never met a stranger, who saw the best in every human being she met, and who brought out the best in all of us. That was probably her biggest gift,” said Davis.
“She just loved all of us,” said Broom, “and she wanted to make the world a better place to live for everyone. I speak for the people at this table when I say we will be forever grateful that we knew her and that she considered us friends.”
Davis said Billings’ passing is not just a huge loss for her friends and family, but for the community as a whole.
“She came to committees ready to work and engage but always had a smile on her face. She always had something funny to say, and people just loved to be around her. She was just a special lady,” she said.
In 2018, Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch presented Billings with the Golden Hoosier Award, the highest honor bestowed on community servants aged 65 and older.
“Susan has served her community for nearly 50 years, volunteering for organizations around Hancock County,” State Rep. Bob Cherry said at the time. “She is a true community leader whose dedication and compassion have made her a tremendous public servant for our area….She is the epitome of selflessness.”
Billings grew up on the southside of Indianapolis but spent most of her life in Hancock County with her husband Tom, to whom she was married for 56 years. The couple share three grown children and eight grandchildren.
“Her family meant the world to her,” said Miller. “She adored them all.”
A public celebration of life will be held at the Hancock County Public Library in Greenfield from 2-5 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 17.