In Memory of Jim Billen – Class of ’78
Jim Billen, age 70, resident of Los Alamos, New Mexico, passed away peacefully in his home on Saturday, April 14, 2018 due to complications of Multiple System Atrophy. He was surrounded by friends and family.
He was preceded in death by his father and mother and survived by his wife of 31 years, Mary Billen; daughters, Melissa (Craig) Kuettner of Portage, Michigan, Laurie (Kevin) Gates of Chicago, Illinois and Kimberly (Matt) Hall of Phoenix, Arizona; son, Richard (aka Mich) Thomas of Las Vegas, Nevada; sister, Janis (Stan) Gorecki of Montague, Michigan; and brother, John (Carolina) Billen of Las Vegas, Nevada. Also survived by four grandchildren: Michael, Ashley, Olivia and Maurice.
Jim was born on June 18, 1947 in Kenosha, Wisconsin to Ruth and Harold Billen and received his undergraduate and PhD in Physics from the University of Wisconsin, Madison.
In 1983, he moved to Los Alamos and started his career at Los Alamos National Lab. He was married to Mary (Dunphy) Billen of Canby, Minnesota on July 12, 1987 in Los Alamos and was with her at the time of his death. Jim enjoyed time with his family and traveled the world for business and pleasure.
At Los Alamos National Laboratory, Jim developed particle accelerator technology and programmed computers both here and in Germany. He also taught accelerator courses with Tom Wangler at the U.S. Particle Accelerator School. After retirement, he consulted at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, Tsinghua University in Beijing and CERN in Switzerland.
One of Jim’s finest accomplishments is known as the “Bass Ale Trail” near the Pueblo Canyon Rim. For six years, Jim patiently cut out and leveled the trail to make it accessible to bikers and hikers of all kinds. This work was done by hand and with a love for nature and adventure.
He loved the opera and served on the board of the Los Alamos Opera Guild. He enjoyed playing bridge, skiing, biking, hiking and was an excellent cook. He was often requested to make his expert, table-side Caesar Salad for guests. Many of you know it was incredibly delicious.
Many thanks go out to all the Los Alamos Visiting Nurses, especially Sande Cremer and Shirley Trujillo, and his caregivers, Maria Eadie, Skye McKinney and Skye Webb, for their thoughtful and loving care.
A memorial service is planned for June 18, 2018 at the Unitarian Church in Los Alamos. In lieu of flowers please consider a donation to the Los Alamos Visiting Nurses or the Multiple System Atrophy Research Coalition.
Please visit the Rivera Funeral Home website to share thoughts and memories of Jim.