moved to Central Washington when he was 3 years old and grew to
be one of the most dedicated champions of the river and its
Billingsley worked first as a newspaper reporter and editor in
The Wenatchee Daily World campaign for Grand Coulee Dam and
development of the Columbia. He was also a commissioner for
Chelan County Public Utility District from 1945 to 1953, when
he became general manager of the utility until 1968. He served
again as a PUD commissioner from 1970 to 1976.
Billingsley envisioned a river with local control, public
access, environmental stewardship and a multi-use approach to
this great resource. His achievements include his pivotal
involvement in public power in the region, the funding and
construction of Rocky Reach Dam, and the creation of Chelan
County PUD’s parks system. His spirit of friendship, his
love of people and the river and his tireless efforts endeared
him to those he met, and helped convert others to the dream.
Billingsley’s support of public power was felt
nationwide. He was a director and president of the American
Public Power Association as well as a director of the
Washington Public Power Supply System and the Northwest Public
Billingsley had a vision of parks lining the Columbia River so
that everyone could enjoy the power of nature and recreation,
as well as the power of electricity. He helped convince
Congress of the importance of public access to the river, and
Congress responded by including requirements for parks in
federal dam licenses.
Billingsley died in 1993 at the age of 89. His legacy includes
14 parks constructed by Chelan County PUD to provide endless
access for all to the waters he loved. The Kirby Billingsley
Hydro Park was dedicated to his memory in 2008.