Billie Mae Ridgway was born in Cushing, Oklahoma on November 6, 1930, she left this life on Thursday, July 28, 2022 in the Inland Valley Rehabilitation Center in Pomona, California at the age of 91.
Billie grew up in Cushing, Oklahoma with her parents John Calvin Allen and Julia Maude Benefield Allen. Billie was a happy child and enjoyed the things her father and mother instilled in her. She loved baseball, swimming, diving, roller skating, bicycling and ice skating. Billie thought she was a tomboy, she’d rather play baseball than do homemaking chores that her mother did so well. Her mother taught her to be honest, truthful and have high integrity. When the family moved to Santa Monica, California, Billie attended Santa Monica High School. She would take her swimsuit and beach towel so she and her classmates could all head to the beach after school. Billie married young and had two children, Robert Rocklin and Vickie Del. Billie later divorced and worked at a gas station in the daytime and as a waitress at night to support her children. She said the tips from waitressing helped out tremendously. The kids grandmother, Julia, helped out as well. As a divorcee with two children living in Lancaster, California, she met a young cowboy country singer named Don Ridgway. She did not care for country music as her brother, Garry Allen, sang opera and played classical music. Don kept asking her out, she would decline but finally agreed to have a cup of coffee with him. They were married in April of 1954 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Their union brought a daughter, Penny Lee, to complete their family of five.
Billie worked at the Antelope Valley Hospital as a central supply clerk and a nurse’s aid. Don and Billie lived in California1 Oregon, and Oklahoma. Don told Billie he should have bought or built her a traveling house because she wanted to move so much. They moved to Durham, Oklahoma where Don was County Commissioner and Billie had manx cats that she raised. They later settled in Rialto and Fontana where Billie was a nurse’s aid at Kaiser Permanente Hospital in Surgical and Orthopedic Clinic. Don was a surveyor and played music at the Fontana Inn with his band The Country Aires. After retirement and living in Pinon Hills, California, Billie, an avid animal lover, began to raise and show Cornish Rex cats. Don built her a cattery that housed over fifty cats. She went to cat shows nearly every weekend winning ribbons and grand championships. She shipped kittens around the world to Russia, Finland, Sweden, Belgium, France, Canada and the United States. Billie became famous in the cat world for her perfection of the pedigreed and receiving many honors, including articles in Cat Fancy Magazine. Billie shared her expertise with many people and helped those starting out in the hobby.
After the passing of her husband, Don, she moved to Stratford, Texas to be closer to her daughter Penny. She attended First Baptist Church there with her daughter.
After two years, she moved back to California and bought a mobile home in a perfect little senior park in Phelan. She loved to play Bingo and was the secretary for the games. She helped many of the residents with their animal problems and became an advocate for the spaying and neutering of the cats and dogs to cut down on the pet population. She created a desert oasis across from her mobile home that was home to many wild animals and birds. She even got her neighbors to help out! Her motto was, “ff it is hungry, I will feed it!” and she did.
Billie was a member of High Desert Baptist Church in Phelan, California and enjoyed attending with her friend and neighbor, Jean Rodgers and her daughter Vickie when she visited her mother.
Billie wrote a children’s book titled “K-9 Kelly” which sold on Amazon. Many adults enjoyed reading the story as well. Her friend, Linda Guyan, helped her with secretarial, typing and research. The publishing process was difficult but Billie persevered and got it accomplished. It can still be purchased today.
Billie was very generous to the poor and unfortunate, she would give others her last dollar, and helped them find jobs or homes. Billie also had a great sense of humor, could tell a great story or joke and had people laughing with her funny wit.
Billie was preceded in death by her sister, Claudine Louise Allen, her brother, Garry Eugene Allen, her father, John Calvin Allen, her mother, Julia Maude Allen Christy, her husband, Donald Ridgway and her son, Robert Rocklin Ridgway and her daughter-inlaw, Thea Kosmerchock Ridgway both formerly of Tombstone, Arizona. Bille Mae Ridgway is survived by her daughter, Vickie Del Crabb and husband, Patrick, of Tustin, California, her daughter, Penny Lee Boyd and husband, Mike, of Durham, Oklahoma, her granddaughter, Jill Sonia Rana and husband Ather Mehboob of Bakersfield, California, her grandson, Kevin Crabb and wife, Jennifer, of St. Claire Shores, Michigan, grandson, Kenneth Crabb and wife, Jael, of Mongolia, grandson, Trenton Boyd and wife, Mendy of Groom, Texas, her great grandchildren, Kamran Rana, Zoya Rana, Serafina Crabb, Aggie Jo Crabb, Reganne Boyd, Tyler Boyd, and Tenley Boyd.
At a later date, Billie will be laid to rest next to the love of her life, Don, at Silent Home Cemetery, Roll, Oklahoma.
Family requests memorials be to Durham Baptist Church. Roger Mills County Firefighters, or High Desert Baptist Church.