Leon O. "Mike" Billig, son of Edward C. and Henriette Stuessel Billig, was born Nov. 2, 1927, in Sealy. His early years were spent working on the farm. When his brother, Herbert, was drafted in 1945, Mike entered the Maritime Training School on Catalina Island.
After completing his training, his first ship left Portland, Oregon on Aug. 6,1945, and reached Honolulu the day after VJ day. He served two years as a merchant seaman until chronic seasickness forced him to retire from the sea in 1947. Mike then returned to Sealy where he operated a bulldozer business.
Mike and Virginia Jorgensen were married April 3, 1949. He continued his bulldozer business until he was drafted in 1953. After basic training in Ft. Riley, Kansas, he served as a radio operator with the 7th Infantry Division in Korea. He returned to Sealy after his military service was completed and worked as a bulldozer operator until 1955 when he entered the University of Houston. Mike received bachelor’s degrees magna cum laude in mechanical engineering and mathematics in 1959.
After receiving his master’s degree in mechanical engineering in 1960, he and Virginia moved to Seattle where he was employed by the Boeing Company.
Mike completed his education with a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from the University of Washington in 1967 and continued to work for Boeing until he retired in 1988.
In the 1980s, Mike eased into a writing career beginning with a series of biographical essays and evolving into a number of published novels. His work was evocative, creative and oft-times very touching.
was a charter member of the Seattle Chapter of Lutherans for Life and in 1990 he founded a bi-monthly newsletter which was distributed to every Lutheran church in Washington State. The Seattle Chapter was acknowledged by the national chapter of Lutherans for Life in their 1992 National Convention in Houston. Publication of the letter ceased when Mike and Virginia moved back to Texas in 2000, residing initially in Burnet and subsequently in Kosse.
While living in Burnet, loving and loyal dogs Snert, Eddie, and Trixie adopted Mike and Virginia. Snert faithfully walked Mike each morning and evening on the golf course in Burnet, and later around their acreage in Kosse, and Mike' written obituary for Eddie was a tribute worthy of any friend, four-footed or otherwise.
Mike died on July 31,2017 after a recurring battle with cancer. He was preceded in death by his parents and sisters Esther Wilke, Alice Cockrell, Mildred Kaechele, Marie Stephens, and Helen Morgan; and his brothers Erwin, Herbert, and Harold Billig. Mike is survived by his wife, Virginia, of 68 years, a foster daughter, Shirley Nelson, a sister-in-law, Julie Jorgensen, whom he claimed as a sister of his own, and many beloved nieces and nephews.
Funeral services were held Aug. 3, 2017, in Heard's Prairie Baptist Church at 11 a.m. with Pastor Timothy Ochsner (Faith Lutheran Church, Lampasas) and Pastor Kurt Rutz (Grace Lutheran Church, Marlin) officiating. Visitation was held from 10 a.m. until the time of services, under the direction of Memorial Funeral Home in Hearne, Texas. Pallbearers were Robert Billig, Ricky Billig, Ellis Hise, Ronnie White, Joe Cavasas, Keith Morgan, Curtis Morgan and John White. Interment will be in the Heard's Prairie Cemetery, located directly behind the church.
The family wishes to acknowledge with gratitude the tender ministrations of the caregivers of Providence Hospice, Mexia, Texas.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Faith Lutheran Church in Lampasas; Grace Lutheran Church in Marlin; Lutherans for Life, 1101 5th St., Nevada, IA 50201; or Providence Hospice of Mexia.
Heard's Prairie Baptist Church, 15088 FM 2293, Bremond, TX 76629