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Curtis Dewayne “Tody” Billy transitioned from this life into eternal life on Sunday, June 18, 2023. He was born on February 20, 1951, in Talihina, Ok to parents Ed and Cynthia Billy.
He graduated from Broken Bow High School in 1969 and attended Southeastern Oklahoma State University where he received a Bachelor’s degree in Art Education with a minor in Industrial Education in 1973 and a Master’s degree in Behavioral Studies of Guidance and Counseling in 1975.
In 1973, he was a mentor to a Presbyterian church youth group that traveled to the ancestral homeland of the Choctaws in Mississippi to explore identity and culture. As a fluent Choctaw speaker, he served as a translator and helped bring back Choctaw social dances and the traditional sport of Choctaw stickball to Oklahoma.
He was an educator for 50 years. His first teaching job was in Miami, Ok where he taught art. He then accepted a position in the Broken Bow Public School system as an Indian Education Coordinator and Guidance Counselor. He worked for the Choctaw Nation School of Choctaw Language as a Choctaw Language and Culture Instructor/historian and taught classes at Southeastern Oklahoma State University until his passing.
While at Broken Bow schools, he started the Indian Arts & Crafts program and the Choctaw language and culture class.
He founded the American Indian Leadership Youth Council for high school and middle school students. His students were taught photography, journalism, silk-screening, primitive pottery, traditional Choctaw weaponry, stickball skills, stickball stick making, Choctaw social dances, beadwork, basketry, and textile art. He was instrumental in providing a cultural curriculum at the school with the 5th grade culture day, Native American Awareness Week, A.I.L.Y.C. Spring Powwow, Royalty Night and Talent Show. He assembled a dance group that traveled to perform traditional social dances for colleges, schools, churches, nursing homes, The State Fair of Oklahoma and other venues across the state.
From 1976-2019 he directed Choctaw dancing and stickball exhibitions on the capital lawn and presented history and culture demonstrations as part of the living Choctaw village at the annual Choctaw Nation Labor Day Festival at Tuskahoma, Ok.
In 1992, he was honored by the National Indian Education Association and received the Parent of the Year award and was named Indian Educator of the Year award from the American Indian Leadership Youth Council in 2005.
He received numerous honors from the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, including his contributions to the game of stickball in 2011, The naming of Choctaw Nation ‘Tody’ Billy stickball field in 2018, and received a certificate of recognition as a first language speaker of the Choctaw language in 2023.
Curtis was an elder at St. John Presbyterian Church in Rufe, Ok. He was fan of Broken Bow High School sports and had a heart for his community and hometown. His gifting included the ability to repair cars and was known as a “shade tree mechanic.” He loved the outdoors, enjoyed hunting, fishing, spending time at the cabin, riding the side by side, listening to 60’s and country music, spending time in the word of God, reading newspapers, watching the news, Christian TV, OU football, catching up with friends, relatives, and spending quality time with family. He lived for and cherished every moment with his grandchildren by supporting all their endeavors. He attended their school and sporting events and collected their artwork.
He was preceded in death by parents, Ed Wallace Billy and Cynthia Mae (Wilson) Billy; maternal grandparents, Sweeny Wilson and Mary Mae (Ward) Wilson; paternal grandparents, Simon Billy and Mary (Amos) Billy; daughter, Deana ‘Gina’ Billy; sister, Nelda Diane (Billy) Jacob; brother-in-law, Ray Hicks; nieces Kathi Hicks and Jennifer Billy.
He is survived by his wife of 52 years, Teresa ‘Teri’ (Gibson) Billy of Durant, Ok; son, Bryon Mahli Billy of Durant, Ok; son, Jimmy Billy and wife Kerlissa of Farmington, New Mexico; daughter, Nicole (Billy) Roberts and husband Jake of Ponca City, Ok. Grandchildren, Brenner Billy, Marni Billy, Minko Billy, Trayvian Billy, Logan Billy, Nazbah Billy, Jacoby Roberts, and Jireh Roberts. Great grandchildren, Warren Billy, Dionne Billy, and Ella Billy. Sister, Elsie Hicks of Broken Bow, Ok; brother-in-law, Donald Jacob of Ada, Ok; sister, Meredith Billy of Broken Bow, Ok; brother Eric Billy and wife Debra of Norman, Ok; brother, Wendall Billy of Broken Bow, Ok; Phillip Billy and wife Lisa of Purcell, Ok; and a host of nieces, nephews, relatives, and friends.
Visitation will be held from 6:00-8:00 p.m. on Thursday, June 22, 2023, at Bunch-Singleton Funeral Home in Broken Bow, Ok.
Funeral services are set for Friday, June 23, 2023, at 10:00 a.m. at Broken Bow High School Jenkins Auditorium, Broken Bow, Ok with Reverend Ronald Mckinney, Pastor Cloyd Harjo jr., and Pastor Johnny Tonihka officiating. Interment will follow at Oka Achukma Presbyterian Church in Broken Bow, Ok. Pallbearers will be all his grandchildren.