Chatting with Marie Billingsley


Marie Billingsley, President of the Senior South Local Advisory Council. Photo by Anita L. Baker.

The late Walter Russell was a dear and good friend of Marie Billingsley, the president of the Senior South Local Advisory Council. When Billingsley moved into 6401 S. Yale Ave. in 1982, Russell asked her to work with him. They worked together since that time.

“I did not just start to be president,” Billingsley explained during my recent interview with her.

Billingsley came up from the ranks. First, she was a member of a local advisory committee, then the chairperson for modernization, then vice president to the late Walter Russell. After Mr. Russell retired as building president, Billingsley then was elected building president of Senior Housing Local Advisory.

Mr. Russell and Billingsley worked well together

“He was so kind to the seniors,” Billingsley recalled about Russell.

“I really enjoyed working with the late Walter Russell. He was a very intelligent man. Walter will truly be missed by many.”

The late Mrs. Artensa Randolph and Billingsley were also good friends. “I called her Randi,” Billingsley said.

“We worked very closely together. She and I enjoyed each other’s company. When I had problems, I could always go to Randi with my problems and she would always help me to solve them. She was a very good person. She did so much for all residents, not only seniors. Artensa would always say with a smile, ‘I’m a senior too.’

“Randi and I shared many moments. Some were bad and some were good. Randi was a good joke teller and I truly will miss Randi.

“I did not start a couple of years ago. I started many years ago. We have never provided transportation for any resident to attend various meetings and other functions. Residents receive a stipend which is an equivalent to transportation costs and I have always given reimbursements to the building presidents.

“I would also like to see more seniors involved in the victim witness programs because I was one of the first victim witness advocates for the senior. I was trained by the City of Chicago’s Police Department. I think that the building presidents certainly should invite the victim witness advocates into their buildings because they are coming to help and provide safety information to them.”

Billingsley also discussed the year that has passed since the three senior Local Advisory Council presidents:

“With the split of the senior buildings Local Advisory Councils, the only thing I see that is better is we have more control over budget matters such as controlling expenditures and now we are able to help the seniors more than before. To me, the old way was OK but they wanted to separate the various senior housing buildings and this is what happened.

“Regardless of the split, I continue to give my retreat from the south end. I always extend an open invitation to the other senior locations. Should they want to participate, they are more than welcome. “The retreat was a successful and all participants enjoyed the retreat. I’m sorry you missed it. The officials in attendance at the retreat were (CHA Executive Director) Joseph Shuldiner, (CHA Chairman) Edwin Eisendrath, (CHA Deputy Executive Director) Edward Moses, (CHA Economic Development Director) Ronald Carter and many others.

“Mr. Shuldiner spoke about things to come as the authority moves forward. This was very informative to the seniors. Mr. Moses also helped with the retreat. I also hope in the future other staff will also help and participate.

“I started a janitorial service and it’s going very well. Thanks goes out to the Economic Development Division for starting this residential program. The residents are grateful and the buildings are looking very good. I can’t speak for the other areas but I know that I have several qualified, dependable seniors and the other seniors do a good job.

“I would like to see more residents participate in more authority-wide activities. I think they should be informed of everything that is going on in their buildings. This is a hard job for a few residents to maintain. In order to correct the problems of our living conditions, we must first be willing to help as individuals in solving the problem because we as residents must live here.

“It is nice to hear that you have people that admire you and this is what make the job I do for the Seniors as well as the residents all worth while. Because I certainly try to do the right thing by the seniors and the residents because I am a senior also. Therefore, I take them to heart.

“I guess that’s why I was appointed to the City of Chicago Mayor Daley’s advisory board. With this appointment, I feel I can help the seniors and residents more. The mayor inducted me into the Senior Hall of Fame and I am on several boards because a person should participate in as many productive activities as possible to help better their community by networking with other areas and leaders. I try to get as many seniors as possible to keep them from being idol and to stay alert. Life would be better served when you are active in bettering your community.

“I’m hoping to get more ideas from the seniors and what they would like to do in their building, something new.”

Keep your eyes on Residents’ Journal.

Tags: , , , , , ,
Categories: Uncategorized