Biography of R. L. Billings
Alameda County, CA Biographies





R. L. BILLINGS
R. L. Billings is well known throughout the central part of Alameda county because of his unusually successful record as a realtor and his activities have been of material benefit to San Leandro and vicinity. He was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on the 22nd of April, 1880, and is a son of O. L. and Lucy (Chapin) Billings. The father, who was born and reared in Maine and served in the Civil war, was a prominent lawyer of Minneapolis and was at one time district attorney of Hennepin county. The mother, who is a native of Minnesota and is now seventy two years of age, makes her home with her son, R. L., in San Leandro, and, despite her age, is active and spry. She is of German ancestry.

R. L. Billings was reared to the age of seventeen years in Minneapolis and secured a good public school education. In 1898 he enlisted in the United States navy and has to his credit a long and honorable service of twenty years, receiving his honorable discharge in 1918 with the rank of chief gunner's mate. During these years he passed through many unusual and interesting experiences and his naval service was in fact educational to a marked degree. He has been in nearly every port of importance in the world and in nearly every state in the Union, having served as a naval recruiting officer in Kansas and as an instructor in various naval training schools. During the World war he was in the secret service, working under orders from the United States intelligence bureau, and in that capacity visited many foreign countries. For a time during the war he also served as instructor at the Great Lakes Naval School. He was a member of the crews who made the historic trip around the world under President Roosevelt's orders. He became personally acquainted with Colonel Roosevelt, of whom he is a great admirer. During that eventful voyage Mr. Billings was transferred to the battleship "Kansas," and among the interesting sights which he witnessed was the ruins of the terrible earthquake at Messina, Italy. Mr. Billings' first assignment was to the training ship "Mohican," `which later transported ammunition to the Hawaiian islands and took part in the flag raising ceremonies there. During the subsequent years he served on a number of Uncle Sam's ships, including the training ships "The Adams" and "Mohican;" the cruiser "Philadelphia," the new battleship "Maine;" the old battleship "Mississippi;" the destroyer "McCall;" the old "Constitution" at Boston; the old supply ship "Jupiter;" the revenue cutter "McCullough;" and was on the "Princeton" for two years. While cruising in the south seas the "Princeton" struck a rock and went down in seventy two feet of water. Mr. Billings assisted in the United States naval survey of Tutuilla island (also called Pago Pago). Among his other accomplishments he became a deep sea diver, and for seventy two days aided in raising the wreck of the "Princeton," which was accomplished after the most difficult work. As a result of his labors there his right hand became infected from metallic poisoning, and he was taken to a hospital but was incapacitated for further service as an active seaman, though he was afterward assigned to the revenue cutter "McCullough."

In 1918 Mr. Billings received an honorable discharge and in the following year came to California He established a real estate office in Hayward, where he successfully engaged in business until 1923, when he came to San Leandro and has continued in the real estate business to the present time, having offices at 1342 East Fourteenth street. While he carries on a general real estate business, Mr. Billings specializes in the exchange of properties and, possessing an accurate knowledge of real estate values, he has been able to give his patrons a high type of service. He also handles insurance, loans and investments and is a notary public. He is progressive and enterprising in his methods, has handled property all over the East Bay district and his customers have been from various parts of California and also Oregon and Montana.

In 1915, at St. Joseph, Missouri, Mr. Billings was united in marriage to Miss Lucy V. Rutherford, and they are the parents of two children, Raymond L., Jr., and William R.

Mr. Billings was made a Mason at Wichita, Kansas, and is a member of the consistory of the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite at Kansas City, Kansas, and of Aararat Temple, A. A. O. N. M. S., at Kansas City, Missouri. In his political views he is a republican and has shown a broad interest in public affairs, being well informed and holding sound opinions on the leading issues of the day. He is now serving his second term as vice president of the San Leandro Realty Board and has shown an effective interest in everything pertaining to the welfare and progress of the community and county in which he lives. Friendly and agreeable in manner, he enjoys a wide acquaintance and all who know him hold him in the highest measure of esteem.

From:
History of Alameda County, California
BY: Frank Clinton Merritt
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co.
Chicago, Ill 1928


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