Billie Holliday Endowed Scholarship
Jim and Marilyn Holliday
Friends and family
Julia Holliday got her nickname, “Billie” from the Billiken doll that was popular in the years before her birth. At the age of 7, Billie moved from Center Point, Iowa to Siloam Springs in 1919 as Southwestern Collegiate Institute, later to become John E. Brown College and finally John Brown University, was beginning. Billie’s mother, known as Aunt Elsie on campus, was the sister of John E. Brown Sr. and had moved with her children to work with her brother in the beginning years of the college. In those early years, Aunt Elsie and her children, including Billie, lived in the Sager Cabin which is still on the JBU campus. Billie grew up on campus and attended John E. Brown College.
Years later, while living in Long Beach, California, Billie’s husband passed away suddenly leaving her with two young children to raise on her own. Her uncle, John E. Brown Sr., offered her a position managing the JBU cafeteria. In 1950, she moved back to Siloam Springs. From 1950 to 1978 Billie managed the JBU Cafeteria. At that time the cafeteria was in the basement of the California Dormitory and later moved to its present location. During those years Billie and her staff gained quite a reputation for the food they prepared. Alumni still remember the fried chicken and pecan pie served for Sunday dinner. She was also known for the fancy buffets that she prepared for special occasions on and off campus. Not only did she touch the lives of everyone she and her crew fed, but she had an impact on the students who worked in the cafeteria and dishroom. One former student wrote: “Billie gave me my first job, washing pots in the old California dorm cafeteria. I worked for her for over two years, and I can honestly say that I have been forever changed by the experience. She taught me about responsibility, about integrity, about being part of a team, and about having fun at work. She taught me that you can both love and fear a boss at the same time. She gave me confidence that I could please a tough supervisor (and we all knew that she was tough). I guess mostly, Billie taught me self-discipline. Without that, you don’t finish college, go to graduate school, or succeed in a career.”