Arlene Billheimer was a special person. She gave so much to so many.
I remember fondly seeing Arlene and Harry at a show in San Diego in the 80s with kids all around them. Arlene and Harry were demonstrating carving and encouraging the kids to take a piece of soft stone, a file and “do something with it.” I still have one of these pieces and it’s a treasure. It continues to remind me of Arlene.
Arlene took the few threads left of the Mineral & Gem Section of the Los Angeles County Fair and built it up into something memorable. She single-handedly went to all the clubs in the Los Angeles area and pleaded with them to PARTICIPATE in the Fair, reminding them that it would help each club gain more members and it worked. She was tireless in this endeavor and unfortunately when she retired because of health, there was no one to take over her huge task and the mineral & gem section finally went away. A pity.
Arlene belonged to a number of clubs in the Los Angeles area, the Gem Carvers Guild and Pasadena Lapidary Society, and probably more that I was unaware of, but she could have been an honorary member of many because of the time and effort she took in encouraging the clubs. She was passionate about exhibiting and I remember several times when she demonstrated how to put together an exhibit case, with lining, risers, mounts for specimens, labels, and material showing what could be used and what was unacceptable, and all the little things that go in to putting an exhibit together. I only wish today that we had more dedicated people willing to give of their expertise like Arlene did.
Unfortunately, after Arlene was CFMS President in 1991, she slipped into the background because Harry, the love of her life, had serious health problems and eventually they dropped away. Arlene was also a dog lover and had two long haired dachshunds that she was especially proud of.
We shall miss you Arlene, but remember the good times at all the CFMS shows, the ice cream, the pictures taken by Harry, who was a wonderful photographer, and the meetings of the Royal Flush Society.
- Shirley Leeson