Billy Backstrom Trigg, 1925-2019


Billy Backstrom Trigg was born to Viola Jane and William Stanson Trigg on Jan. 9, 1925 in Clara, Miss. He was their only child, though each had children from a previous marriage, giving Billy four half-sisters and ten half-brothers, all many years older than he. Billy grew up and went to school in Clara, graduating from high school as co-valedictorian.

Billy joined the U.S. Army in 1943 and, after training at Camp Fannin in Tyler, was assigned to the 25th Infantry, 27th Regiment in the Pacific Theater. His regiment saw an unprecedented 165 days of continuous combat on the front lines in the Philippines. Immediately after the war, he was assigned to the Red Cross and finished his tour of duty providing assistance to the Japanese people.

In 1947, Billy returned to Mississippi and then moved to Texas. He got his BA at the University of Houston and then his masters of social work at the University of Texas at Austin. While in Houston, he met and married Grace Freeman. He and Grace had three children: Nancy Esther, Frank Stanson and Thomas Adlai. In 1963, immediately after Tom’s birth, the family moved to East Texas and purchased a farm near Hainesville. Billy worked for many years for the Salesmanship Club Boys’ Camp outside of Hawkins as the mental health counselor and then in Dallas as the director. In the early 1970s, he opened a boys’ camp outside of Gilmer with the Meridell Achievement Center. In the early 1980s, he went to work for the Mental Health and Mental Retardation Authority, first in Tyler and later in Mineola. He continued to work for MHMRA until his retirement in 1990.

Billy always loved the woods and the mountains and had a passion for camping. He planned every family vacation meticulously, and he and his family traveled throughout the United States, visiting national parks and monuments. In retirement, Billy took extended RV trips across the southern and western states with his beloved cat Charlie.

Billy died peacefully on Nov. 17, 2019 at the Watkins-Logan Texas State Veterans’ Home, which stands on the grounds of Camp Fannin in Tyler. He is survived by his centenarian sister, Marjorie Walters; his three children, Nancy, Stan and Tom; their respective spouses, George, Peggy and Laurie; his seven grandchildren: Nancy and George Rodenbusch’s three children, Meg, Stacia and Will Rodenbusch; Stan and Peggy Trigg’s two sons: Steven and Robert Trigg; and Tom and Laurie’s two sons: Ben Trigg and Scott Restina; and his 12 great-grandchildren. His grandchildren and great-grandchildren were his pride and joy.

Billy also took joy in his wonderful community of friends and neighbors. They enriched his life.

In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to the National Parks Conservation Association ( or the Animal Preservation of East Texas – SPCA (