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billie jo Obituary
billie jo mother, teacher, artist, poet, Virginia-Highlands activist July 31, 1936 – July 7, 2014 Born to Joseph Burton and Bertha Mae Scott of Americus, Georgia, billie jo grew up in the Jacksonville, Florida area graduating from Duncan Fletcher High School before coming to Georgia to attend Brenau College where her classmates elected her to several student government positions in addition to the presidency of the Alpha Delta Pi sorority her senior year. She also met her husband of 18 years Steven Norman Blihovde of Passaic, New Jersey, an engineering student at Georgia Tech. When he transferred to Clemson University the two settled in Clemson and then Greenville, South Carolina having two children, Elizabeth Dawn and Steven Erik. Coming from a long line of educators (her mother taught school with Miss Lillian Carter; her grandfather E. L. Bridges was superintendent of Sumter County schools for 20 years) billie jo taught elementary school 18 years in Atlanta, Clemson, and Greenville. Always an advocate for the down-trodden, neglected, and underprivileged she worked passionately and tirelessly for a long list of social and political causes including Project Head Start, George McGovern, the Project Hope Drug Abuse Center and the Women's Stockade. After her husband's premature death in 1976, billie jo retired from teaching to pursue a second talented career in interior design. Her urban pioneering spirit and adventuress soul took her to a downtown Greenville warehouse in the artists' colony where she based her thriving design business for 8 years while teaching interior design at Greenville Technical College. A dedicated patron of all of the arts she also loved performing in local theatre and ballet. In 1984 she moved back to her beloved Jacksonville Beach area to be closer to her aging parents where she continued her artistic and design career. The Jacksonville University women's writing group Kalliope published several of her poems chronicling the human condition. In 1989 she closed her design business and began a new career focusing on meeting the needs of senior citizens and keeping their lives relevant and active. This new calling brought her back to Atlanta to become the director of the Duluth Senior Center for Activities. This is when she settled in her beloved Virginia-Highland where she soon became an active member of the Virginia- Highland Civic Association and the Nexus Contemporary Arts Gallery. From the doors of City Hall to the streets of the Highlands, billie jo was soon to be recognized as a relentless force bringing new street lights, more police, pedestrian crossings, and stop signs to the community. During this period she discovered a new passion for creating folk art from reclaimed and abandoned objet d'art. Her condominium on St. Charles Avenue soon became a sunny and inspiring display for passersby to admire; a destination well known among Virginia-Highland residents. She always found great inspiration from her favorite aunt and longtime Virginia-Highland resident, the late Marguerite Bridges, who was instrumental in breathing life back to the languishing Dogwood Festival in Piedmont Park as a Chamber of Commerce member in the sixties. The community is grateful for her tireless efforts with Trees Atlanta helping to keep Atlanta shady and green. In her honor a tree will be planted in Highlands Park on North Highland Avenue when the weather cools. billie jo is survived by her daughter Elizabeth Riordan, her husband David of Hickory Flat, Georgia and her son Erik Blihovde and his wife Suzanne and two grandchildren Nathaniel and Ryan of Elk Grove, California.
Published in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on July 17, 2014
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