Harry Billen Obituary – Oklahoman

After a long and courageous battle with dementia, Harry “Buddy” DeWilton Billen passed away peacefully on April 8, 2022, at the age of 89. Born September 11, 1932 in Edmond, Oklahoma, Buddy was predeceased by his mother Arlene P. Calvin Billen, father Harry G. Billen, and son Timmy D. Billen. He is survived by his wife of 28 years, Terry Phillips-Billen; daughter Kim Rainbolt (wife David); two grandsons Sam (wife Kylee) and Jake; sister Penny Cron Billen; brother Max Billen; and several nieces and nephews. Buddy grew up in Edmond and his musical career started at the age of 7 who found a battered old trumpet. He played until he was 81, but never stopped loving good jazz and big band sounds. His first gig was in college at the Springlake Pavilion. After studying at North Texas State and Oklahoma City University, he hit the road playing with the Merle Lindsay Oklahoma Night Riders, Hank Thompson, Ralph Marterie, Billy May, the Glenn Miller Orchestra and Wood Herman. His least favorite “gig” was spending four months with Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus Band. In the 60’s Buddy formed his own band and they played two or three times a week. Jazz, dixieland and dance music were the norm. The band performed at area nightclubs, country clubs, private homes, and for a range of events and special occasions, including the Oklahoma Arts Festival in the spring. Music for Buddy was his life! He liked to receive. Over the years, Bud has accumulated a number of trumpets. When approached for lessons or support by parents of youngsters interested in pursuing the trumpet, he would give one of the student’s trumpets, with the understanding that if he did not pursue the music and/or stop playing play, to make the trumpet so that it could be shared with another music student. He never recovered! Buddy and his wife Terry met late in life and in fact while they were both on tour in the Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce‘s “Goodwill Tour”. The two have been drawn to their love of people, good food, cooking, music, golf, schnauzers, fishing and weekend getaways at Tenkiller Lake for over 20 years. Buddy has had several ‘day’ careers over the years, and after selling his printing and specialty items business he settled with Impressions Printing where he retired in 2014. He has was inducted into the India Shrine Temple in Oklahoma City in 1964 and a member of the India Shrine Band, a 32nd degree Mason and former Rotary member of Northwest Oklahoma City. A special thank you to Buddy’s care teams who showed compassion and love: Right at Home; Integris Baptist Hospital 6th Floor; and Ignite Rehab. In lieu of flowers, consider making a donation in Buddy’s memory to the nonprofit of your choice.

Posted on April 15, 2022

Posted in The Oklahoman

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