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Robert Billingslea

Robert Lee Billingslea, Corporate Director of Urban Affairs for the Walt Disney Company, was born on December 20, 1937, in Youngstown, Ohio. Billingslea’s mother, Faye Stevenson Billingslea, had migrated with her family to Ohio from Georgia; his father and namesake, Robert Lee Billingslea, was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, though his father’s family also had roots in Mississippi. Raised by his grandparents, Billingslea grew up on the south side of Youngstown, attending public schools and exhibiting strong musical talent. Billingslea began playing drums at the age of twelve and started playing professionally at sixteen; he was voted “most musical” in his 1956 South High School graduating class. After graduation, Billingslea went to California where he attended Vallejo Junior College and studied music while performing with West Coast regional acts.

Billingslea went back to Youngstown in 1958, but continued to tour the country playing drums with various bands; he subsequently enrolled at Kent State University in 1960. During his last year of school, Billingslea worked in juvenile court, and after graduating in 1964 with a B.A. degree in sociology, he took a job as a probation officer in Akron, Ohio’s juvenile court system. Billingslea later worked in the Office of Economic Opportunity as a community organizer. Then, in 1966, Billingslea was hired as a wage and salary compensation analyst at Martin Marietta Corporation, (now Lockheed Martin), in Orlando, Florida. In 1969, he moved into a position at Disneyland in California that quickly led to his return to Orlando. There, Billingslea played a role in the establishment of Walt Disney World. In addition to his work at Disney, Billingslea became chair of the Orlando Human Relations Board, and went on to serve through four gubernatorial appointments on the Florida State Commission on Human Relations.

In 1985, Billingslea became involved with the NAACP through his work at Disney; the NAACP was reviewing Disney’s employment practices for equal opportunities for African Americans, and he served as a liaison. Billingslea then began working with the NAACP’s youth initiative, the Academic, Cultural, Technological and Scientific Olympics (ACT-SO), which was a program for African American youth to demonstrate academic, artistic and scientific abilities. Billingslea’s involvement with the NAACP included his service on the ACT-SO Industry Advisory Council as a Special Contributions Fund (SCF) Trustee, and on the NAACP Image Awards Committee.

Among Billingslea’s most cherished awards are the National Service to Youth Award, presented in 2004 by the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, in honor of his thirty years of devoted service; and the 2003 Whitney M. Young Award presented by the Metropolitan Orlando Urban League in recognition of his personal contributions to founding and supporting the local Urban League chapter.

Billingslea and his wife, Deidre ("DeeDee") made their home in Central Florida; they had one son and two grandchildren.

Billingslea passed way on September 6, 2017 at the age of 79.

Accession Number

A2005.160

Sex

Male

Interview Date

7/12/2005

Last Name

Billingslea

Maker Category
Occupation
Schools

Youngstown South High School

Kent State University

Delason Elementary School

Princeton Junior High School

Monroe Elementary School

First Name

Bob

Birth City, State, Country

Youngstown

HM ID

BIL02

Favorite Season

Fall

Sponsor

Carol H. Williams Advertising

State

Ohio

Favorite Vacation Destination

Caribbean, Hawaii

Favorite Quote

It Is Good To Be Living.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Florida

Interview Description
Birth Date

12/20/1937

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Orlando

Country

USA

Death Date

9/6/2017

Short Description

Corporate executive Robert Billingslea (1937 - 2017 ) was the Director of Urban Affairs for Disney Worldwide Services. Through this work, he was closely involved with the NAACP, and he became chair of the Orlando Human Relations Board.

Employment

Martin Marietta Corporation

The Walt Disney Company

Main Sponsor
Favorite Color

Red

DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Robert Billingslea's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Robert Billingslea lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Robert Billingslea describes his mother's side of the family

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Robert Billingslea describes his maternal family's move from Georgia to Ohio

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Robert Billingslea talks about his maternal family's name change

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Robert Billingslea describes Youngstown, Ohio

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Robert Billingslea talks about the DeBartolo family

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Robert Billingslea describes his mother's upbringing in Youngstown, Ohio

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Robert Billingslea describes his father's side of the family

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Robert Billingslea describes his father's time in the U.S. Armed Forces

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Robert Billingslea describes his parents' and grandparents' personalities

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Robert Billingslea describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Robert Billingslea recalls his neighbors in Youngstown, Ohio

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Robert Billingslea describes his childhood personality and education

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Robert Billingslea describes his time at South High School in Youngstown, Ohio

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Robert Billingslea describes his musical activities in high school

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Robert Billingslea describes his YMCA involvement and his college ambitions

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Robert Billingslea describes his time in California after high school

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Robert Billingslea describes his time at Kent State University

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Robert Billingslea describes his work at Summit County Juvenile Court in Akron, Ohio

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Robert Billingslea describes his work for the Office of Economic Opportunity

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Robert Billingslea recalls interviewing for the Martin Marietta Corporation

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Robert Billingslea recalls his decision to move to Orlando, Florida

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Robert Billingslea describes his work for the Martin Marietta Corporation

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Robert Billingslea describes his civil rights involvement

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Robert Billingslea describes his time in Anaheim, California

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Robert Billingslea describes his human relations work in Florida

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Robert Billingslea describes his role at The Walt Disney Company

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Robert Billingslea describes his work with The Walt Disney Company for the NAACP

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Robert Billingslea describes The Walt Disney Company's relationship with the NAACP, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Robert Billingslea describes The Walt Disney Company's relationship with the NAACP, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Robert Billingslea talks about racism in Disney movies

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Robert Billingslea describes ACT-SO, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Robert Billingslea describes ACT-SO, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Robert Billingslea describes ACT-SO, pt. 3

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Robert Billingslea describes plans for developing ACT-SO

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Robert Billingslea describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Robert Billingslea describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Robert Billingslea reflects upon his life and legacy

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Robert Billingslea describes his family and how he would like to be remembered