When international students travel to the United States to learn English, the language barrier is just one of their challenges. Cultural differences like being overwhelmed in the grocery store, being embarrassed about not tipping a server (there is no tipping…
Steve Billington: ‘He Put His Heart Into His Work’
In February 2006, Steven “Steve” Billington joined the Syracuse University community as a materials handler with Physical Plant. He had experience in managing a business in the local community, and applied his knowledge, skill and ethics to everything he did to procure items for Physical Plant and FIXit for maintenance and repairs. And he approached every task—and every person—with a smile and positive attitude.
“Whether it was purchasing and delivering materials or dealing with vendors or customers, he was friendly, kind and considerate to everyone,” says Kathy Sikora, accounting supervisor with Physical Plant. “He was the retriever and deliverer of whatever you needed: materials, donuts, ice cream, a laugh, a smile. He cared about his job as well as the people he worked with.”
Billington, 51, of Chittenango, died April 22 in Upstate University Hospital after a short illness. He is survived by his wife, Lisa; and their children: Stephen, a senior at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry majoring in construction management, and Lauren, a freshman majoring in management at The College of Saint Rose and a member of the college’s women’s soccer team.
In his work, Billington had a great deal of contact with people inside and outside the University. “Steve had an excellent relationship with many local area vendors, as well as all of our staff,” says Mary Pat Grzymala, associate director of Physical Plant. “He had an amazingly positive attitude, was extremely friendly and always had a smile on his face.”
Rich Stach, a manager in Physical Plant, says the word “no” was not a part of Billington’s vocabulary. “He would do anything for you no matter what time a day it was,” Stach says. “I have called him before, during and after work about items that had to be ordered or if an order came in.”
Stach says that Billington was an outstanding employee who well balanced a very professional demeanor with an outgoing and humorous personality. “He was a great person to talk to—happy all the time. Everyone who knew Steve will miss him.”
Ellie Righi, accounting clerk in Physical Plant, says Billington was her “go-to guy.”
“He was always willing to go the extra mile and always did so with a smile,” Righi says. “His warm heart, dedication and extraordinary team player attitude will be sorely missed. He enriched my life beyond words and I am a better person for having known him.”
Grzymala says Billington was an avid hunter and loved to watch all University sports. His favorite pastime, though, was spending time with his family and watching his children participate in their respective high school and college sports.
“Steve Billington was not just another coworker; he was a part of the Physical Plant ‘family,’” says Sikora. “And family was important to him. Steve loved to share stories about his kids’ accomplishments. One could tell by the look on his face when he shared these stories just how proud he was. He cared so very much about his family.” One of Billington’s most frequent comments was “The best thing I am good at is being a dad.”
“The spokes in the wheel that make Syracuse University turn are many. One of those spokes was Steve Billington,” says Tim Wandersee, Billington’s colleague in Physical Plant, and a colleague from their previous employment. “Steve stood out because he never needed polish or adjustment. He truly loved working at Syracuse University. He put his heart into his work, and those of us who had the privilege of knowing him knew this.”
“Steve had a way of making any job or task easier. In our work at the Physical Plant stores, Steve built many relationships with local businesses, as well as with his coworkers at Syracuse University. He truly was one of the most kind and generous people I’ve ever had the honor of knowing,” Wandersee says. “His amazing work ethic and dedication will be greatly missed, it is the loss of Steve’s friendship that will be felt the greatest by those of us from his work family here at Syracuse University.”
Calling hours for Steve Billington will be held Wednesday, April 26, from 4-7 p.m. at the Schepp Eaton-Tubbs Fayetteville Chapel, 7191 E. Genesee St., Fayetteville. A funeral Mass will be celebrated on Thursday, April 27, at 10 a.m. in St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, 1341 Murray Drive, Chittenango.