Evelyn Billups, family matriarch

Posted: July 03, 2012

IF THERE WAS music playing and a dance floor handy, you could bet that Evelyn Billups would have been out on it doing her energetic versions of the bop and the cha-cha.

This cheerful, spirited woman didn't let many opportunities go by to demonstrate her skill as a dancer. Her joy in dancing reflected her joy in living, an infectious passion that influenced family and friends to follow her lead. She was, in short, very often the life of the party.

Evelyn Billups, a devoted wife and mother who worked briefly as a teacher's aide at the Samuel B. Huey School, an active churchwoman and the organizer of reunions of her high-school class and of an adopted family of friends, died of cancer June 25. She was 77 and lived in West Philadelphia.

"She was a jovial woman," said her daughter, Marsha Billups. "She was always smiling and laughing."

Evelyn's happy nature attracted people to her. She enjoyed sitting on her front porch on Pine Street in West Philadelphia and greeting passing neighbors. They would absorb a hunk of her joy and move on, better able to face the day.

Evelyn, called Sallie by family and friends, was born in Birdsnest, Va., to George and Mary Lou Ames. She was the salutatorian of the 1951 graduating class of Northampton County High School, on Virginia's Eastern Shore. She attended Norfolk State College, now Norfolk University.

She came to the Philadelphia area in 1952 and lived in Yeadon, Delaware County. She attended the Beaumont School of Nursing. She married the late James Calvin Billups, of Media, on Oct. 11, 1952.

Sallie was always a family-oriented matriarch. The family traveled to Oyster Bay, N.Y., and Treherneville, Va., for summer vacations that included parents, aunts, uncles and cousins, a happy throng.

As if her own family wasn't enough for her, she hooked onto the Bullock family through her best friend, Sally Bullock, and helped organize their reunions.

Sallie also served on the Northampton County High School Reunion Committee and helped plan class reunions in the Philadelphia area.

"At these reunions she would always be found on the dance floor, doing the bop and cha-cha," her family said.

Sallie joined Zion Hill Baptist Church, in West Philadelphia, in 1974. She was part of the Women's Day Committee, and was chairwoman in 1989. She also helped out in the church office and served as assistant church clerk for many years. She also was a member and past president of the Inspirational Choir.

In her memoirs, she wrote, "I loved my children, and my grandson, Joel, is such a joy. I loved people and to do what was right."

Her husband died in 1986. Besides her daughter, she is survived by two other daughters, Olivia Ann Cureton and Carolyn Billups; a sister, Ann Walker; a brother, George P. Ames Jr.; two grandchildren, Joel Andrew Cureton and Carrie Davis; and a great-granddaughter, Cadence Davis. She was predeceased by a brother, Davontz L. Ames.

Services: Were Saturday. Burial was in Glenwood Memorial Gardens, Broomall. n

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