Billie Lou Quam, affectionately called “Mom Quam” or “Me-Mom” by her family, passed away peacefully on April 6, 2019 at the age of 92. Billie, born in Laguna Beach on October 25, 1926 to William and Mary LucilleSwitzer, grew up loving to dance and living for the beach. She was a 1944 graduate of Laguna Beach High School and remained lifelong friends with her fellow classmates. Billie met her husband, Jim, as he was shipping out to the Pacific as a US Navy medic in World War II. He vowed to return to Laguna and marry Billie when he finished his war service, and the two were married in 1944 and stayed in Laguna Beach to raise 15 children. The family enjoyed the beach, camping at O’Neil Park, and taking road trips to Minnesota to visit Quam relatives.
Billie lost her beloved Jim in 1976. When asked how she managed raising her large family after his death, Billie remarked that it wasn’t really that difficult, since there were only seven children left at home. Billie then worked as housekeeper at St. Catherine’s church in Laguna Beach to help provide for her children. Remarkably, her ability to see the positive, her tireless resourcefulness in raising her children in spite of financial constraints, and her faith in God were a hallmark of her attitude about the goodness of life. Billie’s faith kept her strong in the years after Jim’s death, especially during the greatest sorrows in her life, the passing of two of her children.
More than anything, Billie enjoyed spending time with her enormous family. She had a knack for turning the most mundane activity into a festive occasion. An impromptu gathering of 30-40 people was a common occurrence in the Quam house, and the noisier and rowdier it got the better, as far as Billie was concerned.
Billie is remembered as an accepting, welcoming, and understanding mother, grandmother, great grandmother and friend. She was never too busy to make time for those who needed her wisdom, warmth, ready smile and kind words. Her children fondly recall how Mom Quam really helped raise more than 15 children, since Billie’s home was always open to their friends, providing a place of healing, compassion, and rest.
Billie leaves a tremendous legacy of family, laughter, and loving memories. Her compassion, understanding, and acceptance live on in her 13 surviving children, 46 grandchildren, and 26 (and counting!) great-grandchildren. Billie always said that she had been blessed in a multitude of ways in her life, but it is we who she left behind whose lives have truly been blessed by her.
Please join us to celebrate Billie’s life at her memorial service on Wednesday, May 8, 2019 at 10:30 a.m. at St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Church in Laguna Beach. Following the service, there will be a public ceremony at Heisler Park Monument Point at noon and a swim out at her favorite beach, Diver’s Cove. All who remember Billie are welcome to join.
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