Robert D. Bills

Dentist, veteran, loving husband and father

Robert D. Bills, a resident of Mt. San Antonio Gardens who practiced dentistry in La Verne for many years, died on February 21, 2014. He was 95.

Dr. Bills was born December 12, 1918 in Poseyville, Indiana, the second son of the late Elmer and Lura Bills. He was raised in Laramie, Wyoming, where his family operated a confectionary. He graduated from high school at the age of 16 and variously attended the University of Wyoming, Colorado State University, UCLA and finally Ohio State University where he obtained his bachelor’s degree. 

After the outbreak of hostilities with Germany in World War II, Dr. Bills enlisted in the United States Navy, earned the rank of Lieutenant Junior Grade and served as gunnery officer on a destroyer in the North Atlantic. Later, while awaiting assignment to a new destroyer, the USS Hugh Purvis, he was temporarily assigned for further training to the US Naval Gun Factory in Washington, DC where he met his future wife, Margaret Briggs, a Navy WAVE officer. They were married in St. John’s Episcopal Church in Lafayette Square in Washington, DC on October 14, 1944.

In 1946, they drove cross-country to California to introduce Dr. Bills’ new bride to his parents, who were then living in Altadena. They decided to stay or, as Margaret liked to tell the story, she first learned that they had become Californians when he returned home and announced that he had sold their car. Mr. Bills was accepted by the School of Dentistry at the University of Southern California; Mrs. Bills taught school in San Marino and South Pasadena.

Dr. Bills graduated from dental school in 1949, and the couple relocated to a small cabin in what is now Mountain Springs Estates north of La Verne while he established his new dental practice. They moved into La Verne in 1950, purchased a home on Bonita Avenue and started a family. Mrs. Bills later attended the School of Dentistry at USC and became a dental hygienist.

The Bills family lived in La Verne until 1962 when Dr. and Mrs. Bills purchased a home in Padua Hills north of Claremont. He practiced dentistry in La Verne, with his wife Margaret as his dental hygienist, until their retirement in 1985. Dr. and Mrs. Bills continued to live in Claremont after their children were grown, with a second home in Borrego Springs, until they moved to Mt. San Antonio Gardens in 1999.

Dr. Bills was active in civic and professional affairs throughout his career, serving as a planning commissioner, city councilman and president of the Chamber of Commerce in La Verne. He held various offices with the Tri-County Dental Society, serving as its president in 1972 and 1973. He later served as trustee of the California Dental Association and as an adjunct professor in the Department of Prosthetic Dentistry at the University of Southern California School of Dentistry. He was an active member of the Lions Club.

Dr. Bills is survived by his son, Robert D. Bills, Jr. of Shasta County, California and grandson Christopher Bills; by his son and daughter-in-law, David and Randy Bills of San Dimas; by his daughter and son-in-law, Janet McLaughlin Higgins and Robert Higgins of Sausalito, California, and by his grandson, Dorsey McLaughlin, III. 

Dr. Bills was preceded in death by his beloved wife Margaret, by his son Richard and by his brother William Bills.

The family has planned a private service. 


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