SANTEE, Calif. - Hundreds gathered at Santana High School on Wednesday to remember a local woman who died of meningitis. They shared stories of how Jackie Billings impacted many lives.
"Everyone I talk to goes, 'Oh yeah, she was like my second mom,'" said a young man. "I'm pretty sure she was the second mom to Santana or to Santee regardless … didn't matter if it was Santana, West Hills."
Another person said, "I am just really grateful that I got to work with her. She was just an inspiration, role model to people."
Billings, 52, worked at a Starbucks in Santee. Several of those who worked alongside her gathered together at the microphone taking turns sharing their experiences with her they will never forget.
"I don't care how busy it was," said one. "She would stop and go around the counter and give me a big hug and kiss."
Another added, "She helped me through a really large transition in my life and I too … I too, am one of her many second daughters."
Billings died on Saturday following a quick bout with meningitis. Her husband Bob says she had been battling the flu for three weeks when she was taken to the intensive care unit at Sharp Memorial Hospital and told she had meningitis. She died 12 hours later.
"I don't have the words to say all my feelings except for I'm so sad that I've lost my best friend," he said.
Billings' death came just three days after 14-year-old Jewelean Pimentel died of a suspected meningococcal infection. Experts are still working to confirm through lab tests if she also died from meningitis.