Copyright © Janice Tracy, Mississippi Memories

Thursday, April 23, 2009

T. Carlton Billups IV - April 18, 1915 - April 19, 2009

Mississippians who are old enough to remember pumping gasoline at Billups gas stations may be interested to know that T. Carlton Billups IV, an independent oil operator in Mississippi and Texas, died on April 22, 2009, at the age of 94.

The obituary reprinted here was published in the Dallas Morning News on April 22, 2009. The photograph is a reprint from an abbreviated version of the notice published on the same date in the Tyler (TX) Morning Telegraph.

"T. Carleton Billups IV died peacefully on April 19, 2009 in Dallas, Texas. He was ninety- four years old. Graveside services will be at Friendship Cemetery in Columbus, Mississippi on May 5, 2009 at 1:30 PM with The Very Reverend James F. Carlyle of St. Paul's Episcopal Church officiating. Mr. Billups was born in Columbus, Mississippi, April 18, 1915 to Thomas Carleton and Lenore Hardy Billups. After attending Packard Business School in New York, he had a seat in 1934 on the foreign exchange desk of Termini and Company at 30 Wall Street. He lived in Manhattan with his aunt and uncle, Columbus natives Dr. John D. Richards and Marcella Billups Richards. Dr. Richards taught him the game of polo, and in the years before World War II he enjoyed the sport along the eastern seaboard during one of the game's historic periods. At the onset of World War II, he joined the United States Air Force and served as an instructor pilot in Greenville, South Carolina. He taught student pilots to fly B-25s and was the only pilot at the base to hold a green instrument card. In 1944 his squadron delivered the first A-26 fighter bombers to Belgium via Puerto Rico, Brazil, the Ascension Islands and Africa. Stationed in France and Belgium he flew seven combat missions with the 9th Air Force, 391st Bombardment Group, 575th Squadron. In 1943 he married Betty Wilder of Tyler, Texas and in 1945 joined his father-in-law, Hugh J. Wilder, in the oil business. He enjoyed a long and distinguished career as an independent oil operator in Texas and Mississippi. He was instrumental in establishing the Norphlet as a productive formation in Mississippi and remained active in the industry until his death. He lived in Tyler, Texas until 1985 when he and his wife moved to Columbus, Mississippi where they lived on a plantation of his childhood. They moved to Dallas, Texas in 2007. He is survived by his wife of sixty-five years, Betty Wilder Billups; son, Thomas Carleton Billups V and wife Debra Huchel Billups of Artesia, Mississippi; daughter, Susan Billups Underwood and husband Dr. Ronald Howell Underwood of Dallas; granddaughters, Anna Underwood Small and husband Dr. Andrew Buchanan Small IV of Dallas, Catherine Evan Underwood of Dallas, and Jacqueline Cameron Billups of Washington D.C.; greatgranddaughters, Annabelle Carleton Small and Sarah Margaret Small of Dallas; sister Ida Billups Ward of Columbus, Mississippi; and nephew Rufus Alexander Ward of West Point, Mississippi. If desired, memorials may be made to the charity of one's choice."


  1. An interesting connection to Mississippi that I never knew about. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Janice, what a very interesting life this man lived! But, my jaw dropped when I read that the graveside services were conducted by The Very Reverend James F. Carlyle. Remember the little boys on their bicycles on my blog, Genealogy Traces? That is my 1st cousin, Jimmie Carlyle! His mother was my mother's twin sister.

    Anyway, isn't it amazing what we run into in this genealogy world we love?

  3. Judy, that is truly amazing! Genealogy and the internet have really made our world so much smaller, haven't they?

  4. I met Mr. Billups many years ago; it must have been the late 80's. I was selling a car because I was in the Air Force in Columbus, MS and had to sell it. I got a call from Mr. Billups and he was going to pay me cash for it, needless to say I was a little skeptical, after all he didn't even want to check it out. We talked on the phone and it was agreed upon that I would drive it over to his house where he would look at it. I got directions and went over on the day we agreed upon. I don't have to tell you what I saw when I looked at his house as I drove up. The front doors were massive, I knocked and he answered the door, at this point I knew I was in another income level far, far, far above mine. To make a long story short he invited me in and gave me a tour of his home, told me how he and his wife would watch deer as they drank coffee at the table. The living room with the high ceilings and thick wood beams, it was awesome. The point being that this was a man of great success and I was just doing the best I could to support my family and yet he never made me feel small. He never did look at the car; he just paid me cash for it and gave it to someone who worked for him. He was a very gracious man that as you can see 30 years later I never forgot him.