Louis Lawrence Billar, affectionately known as Larry–a lifelong Arizona resident and fourth generation Arizonan–was called home to his Lord and Savior on Wednesday, May 13th, 2020.
Larry was born June 7, 1957 to Robert Billar and Helen Kitts. A graduate of Chaparral High School in Scottsdale, Larry earned a degree in Psychology from Arizona State University in 1984, completed a post-baccalaureate Teacher Certification Program at ASU in 1986, graduated with a Masters in Education from Northern Arizona University in 1998 and then a Masters in Educational Administration from Grand Canyon University in 2016. At the time of his passing, he was just shy of completing his doctorate in education at GCU.
Larry was a devoted father and tireless educator. In his final days, he taught AP psychology and history at Sierra Linda High School in Tolleson, as well as college literature at Tohono O’odham Community College, while also working as a tutor, and still, somehow, serving as a curriculum instructor for Pearson. He had a sustained history of educating at all levels and previously served as a teacher at Hurley Ranch Elementary in Tolleson, Odyssey Preparatory Academy in Buckeye, Imagine Elementary School in Phoenix, Arizona Academy of Science in Phoenix, The Arts Academy at Estrella Mountain, Holy Angels Elementary in Globe, and as an athletic director and coach of various sports including football, basketball, baseball and softball. The bulk of his teaching legacy was built during his 22-year tenure at Ss. Simon and Jude School in Phoenix, where he served as a junior high social studies teacher and vice principal. Throughout his teaching career, he touched the lives of thousands of students and families.
Outside the classroom, Larry had a passion for ASU baseball, football and basketball, Arizona Coyotes hockey, Civil War reenactments, Disneyland, and his family. A devout follower of Christ throughout his life, he was an active member of Trinity Lutheran Church in Litchfield Park, where he served as an Elder, a confirmation instructor, and a vacation bible school teacher. On Sundays, he could be found all day at Trinity helping in any way he was asked. Larry shared his love and passion with anyone and everyone, and gave selflessly of himself to friends, family, colleagues, students and even strangers. His light and warmth will be sorely missed, but his friends and loved ones can take solace in knowing he is now at eternal peace.
Larry is preceded in death by his biological father, Robert Billar, and survived by his wife, Karen; his three sons Michael, Joshua, and Ethan Billar, his daughter, Kara Spicer; his mother and father, Helen and Robert Wertsching; his five brothers: Robert Billar and John, Mark, Alan and Fred Wertsching; and his nine grandchildren: Kaitlyn, Matthew, AJ, Layne, Cora and Hailey Billar, and Reason, Liberty and Justice Spicer.
Funeral services are scheduled on June 6th at Trinity Lutheran Church by invitation only due to COVID-19 seating limitations, followed by a graveside service at Gilbert Memorial Park and Cemetery, 2100 East Queen Creek Road, Gilbert, AZ 85297at 2:30pm. All are welcome to the graveside service. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be sent to his GoFundMe page to help cover funeral expenses.
I am so sorry for your loss. As many have shared on Facebook, Mr. Billar was probably the most influential teacher of my life. I chose history as my college major because of the passion he instilled for the subject during my time at SSJ. I have a vivid memory of his civil war attire the day of his in-class re-enactment. He was kind, he loved to teach, and he truly cared for each of us. It’s funny how during these times we remember the little things… I’ll remember him scolding himself for his “dad” jokes, non-sequiturs about his joy for his kids, and his credulous smiles when a class clown would get one over on him. He was just a fantastic person. He made learning fun and I knew he cared.
Please accept our heartfelt condolences for the loss of Mr. Billar. I will always call him that as he taught all four of my kids at SS Simon and Jude. After they were gone I would often see him at school ( a wonderful place to keep going back to even without kids) and I would always say “Hello Mr. Billar”. He’d tell me to call him Larry, but I couldn’t. He was Mr. Billar to me. I just felt such respect for him, I couldn’t call him anything but Mr. Billar.
You were a very good man, Mr. Billar. God rest your soul and prayers for your family.
Karen and family I’m sending prayers to you all I enjoyed talking to Larry on facebook. He will be missed. Delbert and I are keeping you in our prayers. Karen I will be in touch soon Love you cousin.
A good man who taught my 4 children and helped open their eyes to citizen involvement in government. God bless you Larry.
A wonderful father, teacher, and friend. Larry was the first teacher that I met at SSJ when I was anticipating my teaching career. Since he left SSJ I have missed the talks we used to have about family, teaching, God, religion and everything else important in life. I hope to resume those talks in heaven one day.
To all of you, his children, I think you know your father put you first. He always spoke about you Michael, Josh, Kara, and Ethan with such pride and love.
Karen, know that my thoughts and prayers are with you and Ethan very specially.
May God give you all peace in this great loss.
Mr. Billar was such a excellent, fun and inspiring teacher to all five of our children. They all loved Mr. Billar and social studies class.
Karen, Michael, Josh, Kara, Ethan and all nine grandchildren, you are in our thoughts and prayers. You have so many fond memories of an amazing husband, father and grandfather. These memories will sustain you now and be treasures for a lifetime.
I am so sorry for your loss, and for ours too. Our three children all had Mr Billar in 8th grade at SSJ. We all loved him. What a gifted teacher! They all have wonderful memories of being in his class And still talk about the fun and The learning. Thank you for sharing him with all of us. 🙏🙏🙏
Like so many others, I was sad to hear about Mr Billar’s sudden passing. I have such fond memories of having Mr. Billar for both 7th and 8th grade history, and 8th grade homeroom at SSJ. He was an excellent teacher and a wonderful man. My condolences to all the family and friends who will mourn his loss.
What a loss for our community. He had such a positive influence on my children and at SSJ. He was that one teacher my kids will truly remember forever. I am so thankful my children were able to have such a great example in their lives and the loss of him will be felt among many. My thoughts and prayers are with your family.
So very sorry for the Billar family on the loss of your Patriarch. Larry was a wonderful example of Christ and will be sorely missed. Larry had a great influence on our three boys. They all enjoyed having him at at SS. Simon and Jude and he managed to see the goodness in all of them. Prayers And Peace to the family. Joe and Beany Bonanno
Mr. Billar was a kind man and a fine teacher, and our three kids all benefited from knowing him. I will always remember Mr. Billar from the 8th Grade Washington DC school trips that he helped lead. You could tell how much he enjoyed teaching the students about our history and our government. Rest In Peace, Mr. Billar.
A special prayer is being said today for Larry! He was an amazing teacher to both of my daughters and a wonderful coworker. I always enjoyed seeing Larry around the SSJ campus for Festivals, St Patrick’s Day or any special celebration for our school or Loreto Sisters.
Your family is sincerely loved and always welcome at SSJ. I pray you will stay in touch.
May Larry rest in eternal peace🙏
Mr. Billar was one of my favorite teachers at SSJ. He was one of the few that truly cared about what he was teaching us about. His class was also really funny and more enjoyable than most. He has done incredible service to the students of Arizona and has been a great inspiration to both students and educators alike. May he rest in peace.