Athlete, coach, sports administrator and indefatigable worker for the performing arts in Rhode Island, Billie Ann Burrill's talents have known no bounds. While she was a member of the Health and Physical Education Department at Rhode Island College, her drive and enthusiasm enabled the school's Performing Arts Series to become the finest in the state.
The organizer of 17 different courses at RIC, Burrill also coached the school's fencing team to national prominence and, under her tutelage, one student, Judy Grinnell-Weremay, won a national fencing title. She also organized the New England Women's Intercollegiate Fencing Association and served as its president.
A native of Joliet, Illinois, Burrill joined the faculty at Rhode Island College in 1954, after serving in the Women's Army Corps (WAC) during World War II. During her four and a half years of service, she rose from private to captain and spent time in the Pacific Theater of Operations.
Following her military career, she received an undergraduate degree from Boston University and a master's degree from Smith College.
After retiring from Rhode Island College in 1980, she began to swim to ease the pain of arthritis at the age of 64. Before long, she developed into one of the world's best master's swimmers, winning nearly 300 gold medals and setting world records in her age groups in three different swimming events. Burrill, has been inducted into the Scholar-Athlete Hall of Fame by the Institute for International Sport, the Rhode Island Aquatic Hall of Fame, the North Providence Hall of Fame and received the Virginia L. "Gini" Duarte Female Athlete of the Year Award.