Troy University experienced a loss on Wednesday, Jan. 18, when Neil Billington, a professor in the department of biological and environmental sciences, passed away in his home from natural causes at the age of 59.
A memorial service was held on Tuesday, Jan. 31, in MSCX/McCall Hall where friends, faculty and students gathered to honor the life of their beloved friend, colleague and professor.
Billington was born on June 1, 1957, in Manchester, England, and joined the Troy faculty in 2000, specializing in fish genetics and aquatic ecology.
In attendance also were two of his younger brothers, Andrew Rawdon and Paul Billington.
The latter spoke of how Billington’s childhood personality matched up with his humorous and upbeat adult personality.
Lori Baugh, an adjunct Troy biology faculty member, shared heartfelt stories about the professor, highlighting his authentic character.
Baugh’s first encounter with Billington was at a barbecue house in Troy, where he interacted with her children. This encounter led to Billington becoming Baugh’s mentor after she began working at Troy.
“My heart goes out to his mom and two brothers and anyone else who ever knew him,” Baugh said.
Eric Benton, a Troy graduate student who had taken classes from Billington as both an undergraduate and graduate, said that Billington had a big heart.
“Dr. B. was a fun guy. He made everything fun, and he a heart for teaching,” Brenton said. “He was passionate about what he did, and he had a heart for making sure everyone succeeded.”
Benton talked about memories from Billington’s limnology class, and those in attendance were exposed to Billington’s humor, witty remarks and charismatic personality.
According to a university press release, Glenn Gohen, a longtime friend and biology department chair, said that Billington was a good listener to his students.
“He was a very popular teacher because he was such a good story-teller and because he listened to his students,” Cohen said.
“Some people you work with never reveal their true selves . . . but he was a full person, and you knew him in total. That’s why we’ll miss him for quite some time to come.”