As Women’s History Month comes to an end, we’re pausing in memory of former Louisville Water employee Yvonne Billingslea.
She passed away in January 2023, just shy of retiring after working nearly 24 years as a Customer Service Representative at Allmond Avenue Distribution Center.
Local 1683 President Adam Carter started around the same time as Billingslea and said she was known for her work ethic.
“I don’t know too many women who work that late in life doing the type of work that she did. Her work was very labor intensive. That’s a testament to her will and determination,” he said. “To my knowledge, she worked her entire life and was very close to retirement. It’s sad to know that she didn’t get to retire.”
Carter said Billingslea had a unique personality.
“I’ll never forget her laugh and she was passionate about what she believed in,” he said.
Although she didn’t get to retire, her coworkers decided to carry on a tradition in her memory.
“The union decided to buy her a retirement clock. We wanted to buy her a clock and give it to her son,” Carter said.
In nearly 24 years at Louisville Water, Billingslea made quite an impression on her coworkers, as well as management.
“We can learn a lot from Yvonne and her legacy. Through any adversity that you may face, whether it is adversity as a female or as a race, or age, or anything. She inspired people and showed them that it can be done. You can come to Louisville Water and have a good career, make a good living, and be successful. She showed us that you can persevere through any kind of adversity if you put your mind to it. She was so determined,” Carter said.
Customer Service Representative Nate Frederick worked closely with her and remembered her kindness to others.
“She was very passionate and dedicated to her work,” Frederick said. “She was a tough cookie, but kindhearted. She’d keep greeting cards in her vehicle for special occasions. If one of us were grieving or celebrating something, she’d take a card and collect signatures from employees to give it to someone,” Frederick said.
When notified of her passing, Louisville Water President and CEO Spencer Bruce observed a moment of silence with employees.
“Yvonne was a long-time employee whose dedication and efforts helped ensure that we met the needs of this community. She had an infectious smile, wonderful laugh and was always willing to help anyone,” Bruce said.
An example of her service to the community was her participation in Building Our Blocks, a program initiated under former Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer. Volunteers from several city agencies visited homes throughout Louisville neighborhoods to make sure residents knew about a range of city services.
When Billingslea was interviewed in 2017 about the program she said, “I like to help communities come together…and I like to talk to people.”