Charlotte Billingsley, 20, of Rye, N.Y. died tragically in the Dominican Republic on December 26, 2022, when her taxi was struck by a speeding driver after leaving the airport. Charlotte was on a scuba diving vacation with her younger sister Campbell. Campbell was injured in the collision but is expected to make a full recovery.
“Charlotte was a remarkable person. Her quiet demeanor concealed an extraordinary intellect and <joie de vivre>,” said her family.
She was a junior at Bowdoin College, which both her father Jim and late Uncle Walter attended. She was majoring in Physics, minoring in Arabic, and had a nearly perfect grade point average. She had just completed a fall semester in Jordan where she took all her classes in Arabic. She also travelled throughout the country and taught English to refugee children. Charlotte spent time with King Abdullah II, a family friend, and his family. King Abdullah described her as “a wonderful and thoughtful person who touched all of us.” It was Charlotte’s second sojourn in Jordan. She had spent part of her junior year of high school at King’s Academy, a boarding school near Amman.
In addition to her studies at Bowdoin, Charlotte participated in a variety of extracurricular activities. She played the violin in Bowdoin’s Middle Eastern Ensemble, participated in the McKeen Center’s Leading for the Common Good program, led a Community Immersion Trip to Presque Isle, Maine, and was a member of the Bear Buddies, the Bowdoin Public Health Club, the Bowdoin Bear PALS, the Student Admissions Volunteer Organization, and the Rowing Club. In 2022, she won a gold medal at the New England Rowing Championships. Bowdoin President Clayton Rose said, “With a life so full of promise, Charlotte was the best of our college, and her loss is inexplicable.”
Last summer, Charlotte participated in a ten-week program at the University of Pennsylvania researching optical sensors as part of the Internet of Things for Precision Agriculture program.
Before Bowdoin, Charlotte attended Berkshire School in Sheffield, Massachusetts, where she received many academic awards, including the Peter Lance Anderson Award, one of Berkshire’s highest academic honors. She was co-captain of the rowing team, a member of the ski team, and a volunteer in a variety of school programs. Pieter Mulder, Berkshire’s Head of School, remembered Charlotte as “forever placing the needs of others far ahead of her own” and for “the kindness she extended to everyone here, to our younger students especially.”
Charlotte had a passion for biophysics and engineering research, driven by a desire to make a positive difference in the world. Her father Jim said, “Charlotte was fascinated by biophysics, but didn’t want to pursue a doctorate in that field because it was too theoretical; she wanted to do something that would help people immediately.” Those who knew Charlotte have no doubt she would have achieved her goal.
Her academic interests were undoubtedly motivated by the tragedy she endured when her mother Julia was diagnosed with glioblastoma in 2018. Charlotte returned home from her studies in Jordan to help nurse her mother and care for her younger brother and sister. Her mother passed away in August 2019.
Charlotte’s family and friends will always remember her sharp and witty sense of humor, her love of cooking, her passion for outdoor sports, and the warmth and love she unselfishly gave every day of her life. Her cousin Grace Geracioti said, “Although Charlotte may seem shy and reserved to people who don’t know her, to those who are lucky enough to know her she is fierce: fierce in her aspirations, in her love and consideration for her family, in her passion for the outdoors, of discovering new things, of learning, of speaking her opinions, of laughing with family and friends.”
Charlotte was the daughter of James R. Billingsley Jr. and the late Julia Billingsley; the older sister of Campbell and Latham; the granddaughter of Lee Billingsley and the late James Billingsley; the niece of Ann and John Billingsley and Laura Subin; the cousin of David and Grace Geracioti and Isabel, Luke, and Elise Subin-Billingsley, and the close friend of countless others.
She leaves behind a family and friends in indescribable sorrow but in eternal gratitude for having had the privilege of knowing someone so brilliant, driven, loving, brave, and true.
A service will be held February 5 at 2 p.m. at Rye Presbyterian Church.
Donations in Charlotte Billingsley’s memory may be made to Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine.