Lillie C. Billups Remembered for Her Fierce Love of Family
Lillie Christine Billups, age 85, died peacefully in the company of her daughter and niece at Southampton Hospital on January 14. Born June 15, 1938, in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, she was the sixth of 12 children born to Carl Johnson and Martha Jones. She married Octavious Billups and produced three wonderful daughters, Queen Esther, Christine Faye and Juanita Lynn.
As time passed, many of Billups’ siblings moved to Bridgehampton. Her ambitious spirit and desire for a new lifestyle led her to ultimately migrate to Bridgehampton as well. It was in Bridgehampton where she spread her wings of strength and independence.
Billups hit the ground running once she hit the East End. She took on domestic work for the likes of Robin Gibb (of the Bee Gees) in Oyster Bay, former New York Governor Hugh Carey of Shelter Island and a woman affectionately know as Ms. Elizabeth of Sagaponack. While taking pride in her service, Billups refused to be limited to the stereotypical work for female African-Americans. She also took on employment at Row Industry Watch Factory in Sag Harbor. But she was ultimately driven to use her skills in a professional setting that would yield a pension.
It was at this time, with her limited scholastic education, that she studied and earned the position of certified nursing assistant at Southampton Hospital. She spent over 25 years serving and caring for friends and family admitted to the hospital. She took pride and pleasure in being a source that assisted with the comfort and healing of those ailing in the East End community.
Billups ultimately retired; however, anyone that knows her is aware that she liked to be out and about. Shortly after retirement, she became a cab driver. She drove the cab for approximately 15 years. She especially liked meeting the occasional celebrity during her travels around the Hamptons. She enjoyed educating her passengers regarding some of the history and landmarks around the hamlets.
Make no mistake, Billups was not all work…she played. She loved to load up with family and travel back to Elizabeth City to enjoy extended family. She loved to host cookouts in her yard and sit under the tree laughing and talking until the wee hours of the evening. She enjoyed her morning coffee by the beach. She enjoyed her North Carolina red sausages. She also enjoyed getting dressed up “diva” style to hang out and enjoy nightlife with her siblings.
Billups’ legacy is one of love, courage, determination, generosity and pride. She was passionate about her family. Never cross Billups or her family — the wrath would be serious. Her love for family was ferocious.
Billups was preceded in death by her beloved daughter Queen Billups and her siblings William “Sonny” Johnson, Ethel Banks, Ernestine Lilly, Brenda Robinson, Melvin “Nick” Johnson, Margaret “Mag” Johnson, Martha “Belvadine” Barnard and John Wesley Johnson. She is survived by her cherished siblings Roxie Harney of North Carolina, Larry Johnson (Joanne) of Riverhead and Beverly Hopson of Florida. She leaves behind her dearest daughters Christine “Tine Tine” Clay of North Carolina and Juanita Lynn Billups of Southampton.
She also deposited a legacy of passion and love to be carried by her dearest grandchildren, Jeffery Clay (Tamara), Travis Billups (Sarah), Brandon Clay (Kelly) and Jahlia Nash, and great grandchildren, Bri’yanni, Haven, Brandon Jr., Langston, Drew, Roman, Quest and Sydney. She also leaves her love to many cousins, nieces, nephews and friends.