The family of Billie Jean Haley announces the death of their beloved mother on Feb. 11, 2019, in San Jose. Billie enjoyed a long and healthy life. She died a few weeks before her 94th birthday.
Billie was born in Sanger, California, on March 19, 1925, to Ina and Fred Vermillion. She grew up on a ranch in San Jose with her parents and seven sisters and brothers: Mary, Evelyn, George (Bud), Jim, Ralph, Earl, and Bob. She attended Pala Elementary School and San Jose High School.
She came from a musical family and had a beautiful singing voice. She could harmonize to nearly any music she heard. She taught herself to play the piano and learned the art of oil painting. After raising her family, Billie went back to school and earned an Associate Arts Degree from West Valley College. She put her knowledge to good use when she opened one of the first house plant stores in San Jose – The Wild Thyme—in downtown Willow Glen. In the late 1970s, she began Mobile Shredding Company, the first mobile shredding company in Santa Clara Valley. This earned her a feature story in Inc. Magazine and a segment on ABC News.
Billie also spent time with her Bridge Club—a group of lifelong friends who met when their husbands attended Santa Clara Law School. She enjoyed gourmet cooking, gardening and taking care of her grandchildren. Billie was a voracious reader, often staying up all night to finish a book. She enjoyed traveling with family and friends to Ireland, Oregon, Lake Tahoe, and Mendocino. In her later years, she toured the Canadian Rockies by train and took a trip to Russia.
She was bright, independent and giving to anyone who needed a friend, a place to stay or a shoulder to cry on. If you were sick, she’d make you chicken broth flavored with healing herbs from her bountiful garden. Billie Jean was a treasure to everyone who knew her.
She was preceded in death by her husband Robert E. Haley in 1996. She is survived by her children: Marianne Haley Dixson of San Jose, Kathleen Haley Dixon of Campbell, Pat Haley of Chico and Tim Haley (Ethna McGourty) of Palo Alto. She leaves behind eight grandchildren: Erin, Rob E., Tim (Lindsey) Haley of Chico and Bren Haley of San Jose; Molly Dixon Christensen (Justin) of San Jose; Katie Dixon of Chico; Emmett and Sinead Haley of Palo Alto; and eight great-grandchildren: Lana, Brede, and Karina Haley and Reagan Sloan of Chico; Finn, Dillon, Callan Christensen and Kye Haley of San Jose. She is survived by two brothers: Earl (Shirley) Vermillion of Helena, Montana, and Bob Vermillion of San Jose. She will be missed by dozens of nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends.
A memorial mass will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday, March 2 at St. Christopher’s Church, 2278 Booksin Ave., San Jose, CA 95125.