James A. Billington | AspenTimes.com

James A. Billington

James A. Billington, of Aspen, Colorado and Rancho Santa Fe, California, died peacefully at home in the arms of his adoring wife Maureen on September 7, 2014. He was 81.

Jim was born in Chicago, Illinois on August 25,1933. He attended the University of Colorado at Boulder on wrestling and football scholarships, and married his college sweetheart Jeanmarie Riley in 1955. After graduating CU with a bachelor’s in business in 1957, he worked for The

Carter Oil Company; two years later, he began his career with Merrill Lynch. He hadn’t known where he would be assigned, but moving to Tulsa, Oklahoma was a blessing. Jim enjoyed wonderful memories and formed lifelong friendships. He and Jeanmarie were married fourteen years and had four children together. During his years in Tulsa, he rose from broker to managing the office as a vice president.

When offered Merrill’s Denver office in 1972, he enthusiastically accepted returning full-time to his beloved Rockies. There he met his love Maureen and her son, in 1976. They were married in 1986. Merrill’s Colorado offices flourished under his leadership, breaking records and raising the bar. He was so proud of his Merrill family’s accomplishments, then and since.

In 1989, Jim moved to Orange County, California as Regional Director, managing Southern California, Hawaii, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico. He again achieved exceptional results with his amazing Western Regional team. Jim worked until 1993, when he retired to continue skiing, tennis, hiking, cycling, boating, motorcycling, collecting, traveling and enjoying family and friends. He added golf to his repertoire after retirement, joking that had he known how challenging it is, he would have started as a kid.

After suffering a stroke in 2012, Jim fought his way back with sheer willpower. He was most unhappy that his 59 consecutive years of skiing were interrupted, since he’d set a goal of 60 (at least). He courageously battled cancer for thirteen years, never complaining, never giving up. His team of doctors affectionately referred to him as their “miracle” patient.

Jim lived his life with a sense of adventure, and insisted that family and friends follow suit. He encouraged us to be curious and to be our best selves, a gift that changed our lives. From competitive speed skating in Chicago to running the one-man luge in St. Moritz; from heli-skiing in Canada to cycling the passes from Aspen to Denver, he challenged himself. He loved exploring the world and enjoyed collecting art and antiques, but was equally fascinated with new technology. He brought a confidence and determination to succeed to his every endeavor, and insisted on making it fun. He enhanced the lives he touched with his passion not only for career achievement but for personal fulfillment and the joys of friends and family. He will be remembered with love, respect, and admiration.

He is survived by his wife Maureen; daughter Judith Diaz and her husband Donald; daughter Katherine Billington Steinberg; son James Billington; daughter Christina Billington; son Brady Jacobs; grandchildren Rachel Reynolds; Andrew Reynolds; Sean Diaz; Brooke Reynolds; and Kristina Steinberg; nephews Arthur Eggert, James Eggert, Thomas Eggert, Richard Eggert, Charles Eggert, and Robert Eggert, niece Leanne Carlson, and their families; brother- and sister-in-law Michael and Constance Moore and their family; and by his beloved little pets Annie Laurie and Kenya.

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