Jean Mary Billingham died Feb. 25, surrounded by family, following complications from a stroke. She was 91.

She was born in Baulking, Berkshire, England on Sept. 20, 1928. She grew up in the market town of Bicester, Oxfordshire, England in the years before World War II. She met her future husband, Rupert E. (Bill) Billingham while working at a biology research laboratory at Oxford University.

They started their family in Hendon, a suburb of London. When Bill accepted a position at the University of Pennsylvania in 1957, Jean, Bill, and their two small sons left England and their families behind, and sailed away on a steamship to start their new life. Jean worried at first if she’d ever understand the strange accents of her American neighbors, but she soon did, and adapted readily to life in the States, first in Narberth where her daughter was born, and then in Wynnwood, Pa. Another professional opportunity for Bill brought the family to Dallas, Tex. in 1971.

Jean was remarkably creative all her life and was a skilled photographer, painter, and ceramicist, as well as the illustrator for Bill’s immunology book. For many years she shared her knowledge of art and love of children, teaching elementary art at St Mark’s School in Dallas.

In 1986 Jean and Bill retired to Martha’s Vineyard, a beautiful Island they had come to love on many family vacations. There Jean began to craft wonderful hooked rugs, and found a community of fellow artisans who called themselves The Dock Street Hookers. She led a busy spiritual life within her Catholic parish, driving elderly neighbors to church on Sundays, hosting a religious book group, and making fantastic themed centerpieces for the annual Neighborhood Convention.

In her final years, Jean returned to Dallas, and became active in a new community at the Brookdale Preston Senior Living Center, close by her son Peter and his family.

He life and actions were the embodiment of her faith as a devoted Catholic.

She is survived by her daughter Elizabeth, sons John and Peter; three grandchildren grandsons, a niece and a nephew. She was predeceased by her husband Bill, and older sister Hilda Pawlak.

A private graveside service was held on April 3 in the Sacred Heart Cemetery in Oak Bluffs. A celebration of Jean’s life will be held at a later date to be announced.

Arrangements are under the care of the Chapman, Cole and Gleason Funeral Home on Oak Bluffs. Visit for online condolences and information.