She spent her adult life trying to teach people about the dangers of alcohol abuse and through her volunteer work with a Cape Elizabeth church inspired people to change their lives.

Mae Lan Wah Billingslea, a resident of Old Orchard Beach and a leader in the state’s temperance movement, died Thursday. She was 82.

“She was an amazing woman,” said a daughter, Ramona Lambert of Buxton.

Mrs. Billingslea was born in Minneapolis. Her father, Hum Wah, was Chinese.

Mrs. Billingslea moved to Portland in the 1950s with her husband, who was employed as a truck driver. They raised 11 children; Lambert was the oldest.

“We didn’t have a lot when we were growing up, but we had a lot of love,” Lambert said, referring to her mother’s caring nature.

In the early 1980s, Mrs. Billingslea went to work for the Portland Chapter of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, where she became the WCTU’s office manager. She eventually became president of the WCTU and served on its board of directors.

“My mother had always been against alcohol and people drinking to excess. She didn’t think alcohol was a good thing for families,” Lambert said. “She shielded us from that. She use to say that if you want things in life, don’t turn to alcohol.”

In addition to her duties at the Temperance Union, Mrs. Billingslea became an active member of the Cape Elizabeth Nazarene Church. She was a member of the church for 46 years.

During her time as a church volunteer, she organized skating parties, took groups mountain climbing, raised money for missionary trips, ran a vacation Bible school and taught Sunday school.

Several of her Sunday school students went on to become ministers.

“Her influence had a ripple effect. Some of them even started their own churches,” her daughter said. “My mother always looked for the good in people. She was hard to anger and quick to forgive. Her love was so great it couldn’t help but rub off on you.”

In 2002, Lambert and one her brothers, James Billingslea of York, took their mother on a trip of a lifetime.

They traveled to China, where she had the chance to walk on the Great Wall.

“She always wanted to walk on the Great Wall of China because of her heritage,” her daughter said.

Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

[email protected]


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