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Obituary – Billy June Birdwell

October 5, 2018

MISSION – Billye June Birdwell, born in Cisco, Texas on August 10, 1921 passed away on September 11, 2018 at the age of 97. She was a proud forth generation Texan and longtime resident of Mission, Texas
She taught at Marcell Elementary School for 24 years and was a member of the First Presbyterian Church. She was an avid reader, enjoyed playing bridge, mahjong and always had a dog. She was preceded in death by her husband, Donald Birdwell, parents, William T. and Minna Hittson. She is survived by her son, Donald Roy and wife Laura, grandsons, Stephen and Sam Birdwell.
Graveside service will be held at Laurel Hill Cemetery in Mission, Texas on October 5, 2018 at 10:00 am. In lieu of flowers the family suggests contributions to be made in her honor to Waterford Gardens Senior Living 1522 E. Griffin Pkwy. Mission, TX 78572. Services are under the direction of Ric Brown Family Funeral Home of Mission.


October 5, 2018
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  1. Roberto Zamora

    I am an educator, and as an educator I am always being asked to remember or to reflect on the teacher who had the biggest impact on me while I was in school. Being a musician, everybody naturally assumes I would mention a band director or piano teacher or someone of that sort, but the assumption would be wrong.

    Without taking away from any of the other teachers who had major life changing effects on me, there was still one teacher who stood above the rest. In my nostalgic recollections of her, I feel like I never learned anything new or useful after I left her class.

    I entered school already knowing how to read so teachers didn’t have to focus a lot of attention on me. Perhaps because of this, it was easy to fade into the background. In 5th grade, I met Mrs. Birdwell and she changed that. She was the Enriched Learning Program (ELP) teacher at Marcell Elementary, the equivalent to the GT Pullout Programs of today.

    I remember her walking me to the little red school house room off the 4th ramp of the campus. She was going to conduct an assessment to determine if I could be in the ELP program. She spoke to me like a person, not like a child. She explained she was going to be asking me some questions, and as I answered correctly, the questions were going to get progressively difficult. When they got too difficult, we would stop. I don’t remember every question asked, but I do remember what I believe to have been the last question.

    She had been asking questions, and they were getting more challenging. Eventually, she asked the question that would seal my fate: What is the circumference of the earth? To this day, that question haunts me. I hear it in my head over and over. I responded, “2,000 miles.” With that, the test was over. I knew the answer was wrong. I had missed it by 22,901 miles! Thank you, Google! At that moment, I knew it was over for me. To my surprise, I was wrong. I was able to join Mrs. Birdwell’s select group of ELP students! NERD HEAVEN!

    The truth is, I don’t think I ever felt challenged by anyone the way Mrs. Birdwell challenged me. As a student, she pushed me with love, and challenged me with patience. She never gave me answers, but always guided me to them. I’m sure she was like this with all her students.

    I recall the heavy scent of cigarettes on her breath, but it never hindered the proximity I could have with her. Her clothing was always stylish. She wore the best polyester pant suits and scarves ever! Her voice, probably raspy from years of smoking, resounds in my ears.

    I think she was the person who made me a Grammar Nazi. I remember her being so disgusted with a story printed in The Monitor, a local newspaper, and her telling us all about it. She was saying, “What is a ho use? Can you believe they did that?” The newspaper had divided/hyphenated the word house in one of its stories. “You can’t divide a one syllable word!”

    We would read novels in class. One which stands out was Call of the Wild by Jack London. We did math activities and puzzles. We diagrammed sentences!!! Does anybody even know what that is anymore? Most of all though, there was a lot of fun, laughter and love.

    Not too long ago, I asked on Facebook if anybody knew what ever happened to Mrs. Birdwell. I felt this nagging urge to find her and let her know what a great teacher she had been and what a positive influence she had been on my life. I wanted to tell her she was the best teacher I ever had!

    Today, September 13, 2018, I got a message from Joey Ortiz, with a link to her obituary. Mrs. June Birdwell passed away on September 11, 2018. There are a lot of would-haves, should-haves, and could-haves going through my head right now.

    So I’ll just end like this:
    Everything I needed to know, I learned in Mrs. Birdwell’s class…
    Thank you, Mrs. Birdwell. Thank you for everything.

  2. lcm

    Dear Birdwell family. I am so sorry to have read of the death of Billye. Please accept my sincere condolences. I would like to share something that I have personally found to be comforting. It is found in the Bible at John 5:28, 29 and Revelation 21:4. (Please read) May God give you and your family comfort in His promise that soon we will never experience losing our loved ones in death and we will be able to see them again once they are resurrected. With deepest sympathy and warmth of heart.

  3. Williams Family

    Condolences to the Birdwell family. Our thoughts and prayers go out to your whole family. Psalms 147:3 says God, “heals the broken hearted, and binds up their wounds.” May God bring you comfort and peace.


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