Charles M. Billings III, born October 17, 1927 in Henderson, NC passed away peacefully at his home in Winter Park Florida May 3, 2018 at the age of 90.
Growing up as the eldest child of a school principal, Charles was always challenged to do his best. He completed the requirements of Eagle Scout in less than two years after becoming a scout, and he served his country in the U.S. Navy as a Hospital Corpsman.
Charles attended Mars Hill University in Mars Hill, NC, and Wake Forest University in Wake Forest, NC, earning a B.S. in pre-med studies. He earned a Master of Arts in Drama from the University of NC. He did postgraduate work in theater at Yale University and completed his course work toward a PhD in Theater at the University of Florida. Charles taught theater, and English and speech at Campbell University in Buies Creek, NC, Montana State University in Bozeman, MT, Union College in Barbourville, KY, Marshall University in Huntington. WV, and the University of Florida. He worked and taught in all areas of theater: production, set design, lighting directing, and acting. He was active in community theater productions in various communities, worked in summer stock, and spent several seasons working in outdoor theater at Horn in the West in Boone, NC and The Lost Colony in Manteo, NC where he worked with a young unknown actor named Andy Griffith. Years later, while teaching at Marshall University he encouraged a young Conchata Ferrell to audition for her first acting role.
After leaving academia in 1973, Charles utilized his skills as a set designer and decorator, and his innate sense of style to began a new career as an antique dealer, appraiser and book seller, operating several shops in the Orlando area and traveling throughout the southeast US exhibiting at antique shows. He was an exhibitor for many years in the Florida Antiquarian Booksellers Association Book Fair.
Charles had a lifelong passion for classical music and opera, sending his first donation ($1) to the Metropolitan Opera at the age of 9. In his later years he found great joy in watching Met productions in local movie theaters, and was a dedicated fan of The Arts Channel on TV. He had a passion for books and reading, enjoyed movies, and loved to travel. He was a superb cook who loved to entertain and throw parties, surprising his guests with treats like Baked Alaska.
He was predeceased by his parents CM Billings II and Fannie Anderson Billings, and brother Frank Billings of Raleigh, NC. He is survived by his devoted partner of 51 years, John Martin of Winter Park, Fl; sister Peggy Billings Garrett (Ken) of Sanford, NC; children CM Billings IV and Catherine Billings Gibbs (Richard) and grandsons Blake and Christian Gibbs, all of Charlotte, NC. Charles had a small circle of loving, supportive friends whom he valued, and who will miss him greatly. He was thoughtful of others, and had a generous spirit which he exhibited to the very end of his life.
A party celebrating his life will be held for family and friends in the fall. Please contact John at firstname.lastname@example.org for details. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Opera Orlando, P.O Box 533974, Orlando, FL 32853-3974. Phone: (407) 512-1900. https://operaorlando.org/