Richard A. Billingsley, former chief nursing officer at Mena Regional Health System, died Jan. 16, 2022, at his home in Fort Lauderdale, FL. He was 67.
Rick was born April 16, 1954, in Mena, Ark., to Richard A. Billingsley Sr. and Essie Mae Standridge, who owned and operated Beasley Funeral Home. A talented musician, Rick served as an organist and pianist at several local churches during his teenage years.
After graduating from Mena High School, Rick went on to have a long career in health care. He initially completed his RN training at UA Fort Smith, and he worked as a nurse at hospitals in Fort Smith, Little Rock and, during the 1980s and early 1990s, in Dallas. He worked for the Dallas County Health Department. And he volunteered with the city council campaign of Lori Palmer, who lived down the street from him on Maple Springs Boulevard.
Rick subsequently shifted to administrative and management positions primarily in the public health and hospital administration fields. Much of his later work focused on training medical staff, especially nurses, in addition to his recent work at Mena Regional Health. He held senior positions at hospitals in Lancaster, Penn., Palm Springs, Calif., and Falls Church, Va. He held a faculty position at The George Washington University Medical Center in Washington, D.C., between 2000 and 2010, and he worked at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda between 1998 and 2000.
Rick was a strong believer in life-long learning. He received a master’s degree in information science from Catholic University, a master’s degree in nursing from Drexel University and a master’s degree in Health Care Administration from Seton Hall University. He later earned a doctorate of nursing practice degree at the University of San Francisco, where his doctoral project was “Improving the Patient Experience by Implementing Patient-Centered Care in Community Hospitals.” During his recent years in Mena, Rick also made frequent presentations to nursing students at UA Rich Mountain and served on the board of the college’s Foundation.
In addition to his passion for quality health care, Rick was an accomplished cook and baker.
Rick is survived by his husband, Paul Greenberg of Fort Lauderdale, and his sister, Martha “Moppy” Billingsley of Mena.
An endowed scholarship fund to support nursing students is being established in Rick’s memory at UA Rich Mountain. A memorial gathering is planned during March.