Today our hearts are broken as we mourn the loss of our beloved mother, sister and grandmother, Billie June Connelley Jacobini.
Billie passed peacefully Aug. 15, 2023, at Memorial Hospital of Carbondale at the age of 97. Billie always said, "Getting old isn't for sissies!"
Billie was predeceased by her husband, Horace Bowman (Jack) Jacobini; her son, Charles Jacobini; her daughter, Pamela Jacobini; and her siblings, Mack Connelley, Ray Connelley, Beverly Davis, Liddy Pittard and Phyllis Tarver.
Billie is survived by her brother, James Michael Connelley; her sister, Melba Connelley; a son, Robert Jacobini; a daughter, Michelle (Jacobini) McCormick; Michael McCormick, son-in-law; a daughter-in-law, Dianne Jacobini; grandchildren Anne Campbell, Caroline Jacobini, Christopher McCormick and Thomas McCormick; and great-grandchildren Theresa Campbell, Ian Campbell, Theodore Nash and Mara McCormick.
Billie grew up in Borger, Texas, an oil boom town, during the Depression. Those days gave her endless material for stories about west Texas and the characters she encountered there.
Billie met the love of her life, Horace (Jack) Jacobini, in Canyon, Texas, on Feb. 12, 1944, and they were married July 5, 1944. Jack shipped out for Europe in December and was gone a year.
After the war Jack and Billie lived in a number of places: Hays, Kan.; Lawrence, Kan.; Charleston, S.C.; Huntsville, Ala.; Ada, Okla., and Manila, Philippine Islands, where they stayed for two years. Jack and Billie, with four children in tow, returned from the Philippines on a French ship sailing from Hong Kong with ports of call in Saigon, Ceylon, Djibouti and Port Said, passing through the Suez Canal and landing in Marseille, France. They toured Europe for six weeks and then took a British passenger ship home to the States.
Jack landed a job at SIU Carbondale, where the family settled for the next 66 years.
In Huntsville as president of the PTA, Billie led the successful campaign for a new high school building. In Carbondale, she was active in the League of Women voters, giving speeches around the state in favor of the new Illinois Constitution of 1970.
After raising four children, Billie went back to school and got a bachelors and master's degree in history. She took a part-time job as an academic advisor at SIU and worked her way up to director of the undergraduate pre-major advisement center. Billie played a crucial role in the creation of NACADA, the National Academic Advising Association, and she served as the first editor of its newsletter. She had a long and productive career at the university and nurtured many lifelong colleagues and friends. After she retired she came back to help establish the advisement office at SIU's branch campus in Nakajo, Japan.
Billie loved to play bridge, and she was a fierce competitor, winning many prizes and master points. Billie was also an avid gardener. She was active in the Evergreen Garden Club, and she delighted in the flower design competitions. She was an avid antique collector. Billie loved Chinese history and art and was quite knowledgeable on both. Well into her retirement she attended the opera, and supported the local theatre company.
Billie loved to travel. Jack and Billie visited Egypt, Turkey, Indonesia, Romania, Russia, Greece, Mexico and Canada. After Jack passed, Billie continued to travel to England, Japan, Bali, Alaska, and many trips to Canada and California.
Cremation rites have been accorded. Billie will be memorialized at Pleasant Grove Memorial Park. A celebration of life will be at a later date, hosted by the family.
Memorials can be directed to the Good Samaritan Ministries in Carbondale.
Arrangements have been entrusted to Crain Pleasant Grove-Murdale Funeral Home.
To view the obituary and/or to leave an online condolence for the family, visit crainsonline.com.