BARRY’S BAY – It has been 10 years since the tragic hit and run accident that claimed the life of a well-respected Barry’s Bay resident.
On February 5, 2005, 78-year-old Bernice Billings decided to walk home from mass at St. Lawrence O’Toole Parish. She was offered a ride home from fellow parishioners, but decided to take in the nice weather that day and walk home instead.
Between the hours of 7:45 p.m. and 8:15 p.m., Bernice had made it to Inglis Street in Barry’s Bay, a mere half a block away from her home, when she was struck by a vehicle.
According to a press release issued the next day by the Killaloe OPP detachment, Bernice was discovered by a resident. She was lying in the middle of the street with visible injuries and head trauma.
Bernice was rushed to St. Francis Memorial Hospital, where she was pronounced dead.
News spread throughout the region. It came to a shock to many, as Bernice, nee O’Grady, was well known, especially for her role in the community as the former owner and operator of the Balmoral Hotel. The hotel had been in the Billings family for decades; her husband Jack had operated it until he passed away in 1988. Bernice took control of the business for several years, eventually selling it to enjoy retirement.
Bernice was a devoted mother to her children, and her kids always came first. Her children describe her as an extremely bright woman, who was likely only one of a few women to have graduated from high school in the 1940s.
Get your January 28, 2015 edition of The Valley Gazette to read the full story.