Sheriff Billings Drowns; Widow Assumes His Post – Ben Billings (12/11/1915 – 5/6/1976), who served as Tipton County sheriff for almost 13 years, was buried on Saturday. According to reports, Sheriff Billings drowned while fishing in Sardis Reservoir in Mississippi on May 6. Lafayette County Sheriff Buddy East told the local sheriff’s department that Sheriff Billings was wearing a life preserver when the body was discovered on the north side of the reservoir around 11 a.m. The sheriff’s 14-foot aluminum boat was found overturned nearby.  Sheriff Billings, 60, apparently had left the boat landing about 6 o’clock that morning to fish alone. East said that the reservoir was very rough. The Tipton County Quarterly Court on Monday night unanimously elected Mrs. Ruth Billings, widow of the sheriff, to serve the unexpired term. Mrs. Billings, 63, will hold office until Sept. 1. She is a retired teacher, having taught in the county system for 38 years. Mrs. Billings retired in January 1975. The appointment was recommended to the court by Magistrate Johnny Howard, chairman of the court’s law enforcement committee. Mrs. Billings, who was present at the meeting, told the magistrates, “I know I can’t take his place, but I want to sit in his chair until his term is over. I promise you that I will do the best I can.” Landon D. Yarbrough, Tipton County coroner, served as acting sheriff for four days until Mrs. Billings was sworn. Mrs. Billings becomes the second widow to serve as sheriff. Mrs. Olene Hunt was named to the office following Sheriff Bill Hunt’s death in 1967. Yarbrough also served as interim sheriff at that time. Sheriff Billings first began his career in 1954. He was forced to resign from office during his sixth term in 1967. After an unsuccessful bid for the post in 1972, Sheriff Billings came back in 1974 to win by a lopsided margin. Funeral services for Sheriff Billings were held at 11 a.m. on Saturday at the First United Methodist Church in Covington with Rev. Willis G. Gilliland officiating. Rev. Gilliland was assisted by Rev. Norman Crittenden, Rev. Everett Porter and Rev. J. V. Reeves. Burial was in Tipton County Memorial Gardens with Maley Funeral Home Inc. in charge. Sheriff Billings was born in Tipton County in 1915 and was a veteran of WWII. His belonged to Dunham Lodge 150 of Covington and Al Chymia Temple and was a Scottish Rite. Sheriff Billings was a member of the First United Methodist Church. Besides his widow, he leaves one daughter, Mrs. Kaye Parr Smith of Covington; two sisters, Mrs. Ruby Burlison and Mrs. Annie Ruth Wilson of Burlison; and two grandchildren, Ben and Chad Smith of Covington. (Newspaper Unknown – Submitted by Susan Krall and Leslie Roane)

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