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Billie Kaythern Kussman

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On Dec. 7, 2023, Billie Kaythern Kussman passed away at Evergreen Nursing Home in Alamosa, Colorado. Her husband and daughter sat bedside.

Born on July 25, 1949, in Cassville, Missouri, to Naomi Inez and Ira Jeff Bickford, Billie was the youngest of 11 children. The family farmed and ranched by profession, moving to Arkansas and Colorado throughout her childhood, depending on where work opportunities existed.

Billie attended Rocky Ford and Alamosa High Schools in Colorado. She was a pom pom squad member, and graduated from Alamosa High. She attended Adams State College and met her first husband during a summer spent ranching. They married in Rocky Ford and moved to Tucson, Arizona, where her husband was finishing his Ph.D. Billie gave birth to their first child, Jaimie, in Tucson.

The family then moved to Celina, Ohio, for a position at Wright State University Lake Branch, where Billie gave birth to their second child, Teri. Billie worked as a librarian at St. Marys public library.

Moving to Racine, Wisconsin, in 1976, for a position at the University of Wisconsin, Billie became an avid runner, utilizing the bike paths adjacent to Lake Michigan. She was a Brownie and Girl Scout troop leader, an active volunteer at her daughters’ school, Dr. Jones Elementary, and worked at the University’s health food co-op. She also loved to crochet and sew, creating colorful quilts and handmade dresses for the girls.

Billie chose nursing as a career path, attending Gateway Technical College in Racine after her divorce. She and her daughters moved to Bellbrook, Ohio, where Billie married Michael James Kussman, construction contractor, and graduated from Sinclair College with her nursing degree. Billie gave birth to their son, Nathan Michael Kussman, in 1983. Billie and Mike spent weekends taking the kids to hike nature preserves and First Nation heritage sites around Ohio.

Billie was a nurse in local nursing homes and loved doing home health care. She was a nurse at Miami Valley Hospital and Grandview Hospital in Dayton, Ohio, until she found she loved working with veterans and doing hospice care. She enjoyed her job at the Columbus VA in hospice. She was a devoted nurse for over 25 years, serving two regions of Ohio and earning her master’s degree in nursing from Indiana Wesleyan University.

She left the Columbus VA for a nursing job in Fruita, Colorado, moving there with her husband, son and three grandsons. There, the family, including her daughter Teri and grandson Celestino, enjoyed hiking in the mountains of the area.

Billie retired and moved with the family to Alamosa, Colorado, to be near her sister Wanda McCanless and family, immersed in the beautiful Sangre de Cristo and San Juan mountain ranges.

During Billie’s last year, she spent time gazing at Mt. Blanca; watching her grandsons hunt, fish and cook; and enjoying quality time with her daughters, their children and her husband. Billie was known for her positive outlook on life, and was an optimist. All who knew her remarked that she was a joy to be around, even in her last years and weeks. She had a generous spirit and firmly believed in helping those in need. Her family was the first priority to her, and she worked hard to give them many opportunities.

She is survived by her husband, Michael Kussman, and her children: Jaimie Wilke (Art Mullins), of Yellow Springs, Ohio; Teri Wilke, of Denver, Colorado; and Nathan Kussman (fiancee Makenna), of Monte Vista, Colorado. Survivors also include her grandchildren, Jordan Lininger (Paige), Patrick Morrissey (Jeongmin), Celestino Duran, Grace Wilke, Solomon Kussman, Gabriel Kussman and Isaac Kussman; her great-granddaughters, Malorie Lininger and Milani Channels; and her siblings Wanda McCanless, of Rocky Ford, Colorado, Judith Carroll (Michael), of Pueblo, Colorado, Lynda Keilman, of Eddy, Texas, Dee Bickford (Virgil Lindsay), of La Junta, Colorado, Rodney Bickford (Gwen), of McGregor, Texas, and Ira Jeff Bickford (Rhonda), of Edgewood, New Mexico.

Billie was preceded in death by her daughter Jacqueline Kussman; her parents, Naomi and Danny Patrick and Ira Jeff Bickford; her sisters Gwen Green and Sandy Turner; and her brothers Lyn Bickford and Jeff Bickford.

The family would like to extend their gratitude to devoted and skilled caregiver and family friend Jaizil Vigil.


One Response to “Billie Kaythern Kussman”

  1. Teri Kathryn Wilke says:

    Corrections :
    My sons name is
    Martin Celestino Wilke Duran my mother was very close with Tino since his birth.
    My name is
    Teri Kathryn Wilke
    Kathryn after my mother’s middle name.
    Billie Kaythern Bickford her maiden name
    Wilke and Kussman both married names.
    My mother was certified doula, certified reiki Master, provided years of nursing care to many patients in the village and dayton areas.
    My mother provided Hospice care for Mrs Loretta Pritchett and AL Morgan for years as then i was adopted in by Maxine Jones family.
    So much more, left out, about her life.
    I was not informed of my biological mothers death, or any services, ashes, cremation, or any other information from my bio family.
    If anyone has any information please contact me. Me and Tino Love you miss you Mom!

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