Gregorio Billikopf, born David Gregory Billikopf Encina, was born September 23, 1954 in Santiago, Chile to David Marshall Billikopf and Maria Luisa Encina Bezanilla. Gregorio’s paternal grandfather was a Lithuanian Jew and his paternal grandmother was a German Jew. His maternal side of the family was Chilean. The second oldest of five children, Gregorio and his siblings, Philippa, Nicolas, Stephanie, Yahia (Ivan), were raised in the family home at Asturias 400. He loved to spend time on his grandmother’s farm Fundo Barros Negros. As a child, he liked to ride horses, and was a student (and later an instructor) of dressage. The maternal side of Gregorio’s family have been grape growers in Chile for generations. He spent much of his youth at the family vineyard, where he first developed an interest in labor issues - which would influence much of his later career - as well as a love of horses and agriculture.
As a teenager, Gregorio came to the United States with his family and completed his senior year of high school in New Canaan, Connecticut. After high school, he continued his education at University of California, Davis where he studied agronomy with the intention of returning to Chile to run the family farm. But those plans changed when he met the love of his life, Linda Marsing of Orinda, California. The fateful meeting occurred at a dorm dance which Gregorio attended in his full traditional Chilean huaso attire.
In March 1974, after reading the Book of Mormon, Gregorio became a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Gregorio liked to compare his experience to that of Parley P. Pratt: he was so overcome by the message that he could not put the book down and it transformed his life from that day forward. Gregorio credited the Book of Mormon with compelling him to learn more about his Jewish roots. He used to say that while the writings of Isaiah and the Prophets had always held a special appeal for him, it was while reading the Book of Mormon that the words of our Savior sank deep into his heart: “And now, behold, I say unto you, that ye ought to search these things. Yea, a commandment I give unto you that ye search these things diligently; for great are the words of Isaiah” (3 Nephi 23:1). Inspired by these words, Gregorio spent over twenty years researching and writing a comprehensive commentary on the Prophet Isaiah from the perspective of a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Gregorio and Linda married in the Oakland Temple and started a family together, eventually welcoming their four children into the world: David, Andrea, Michael, and Cristina. Gregorio began his career in the field of migrant education before going on to serve as a Labor Management Farm Advisor with the University of California from 1981 to 2014. He earned his Master of Arts in labor management from California State University, Stanislaus and went on to speak at conferences throughout the world, including in the United States, as well as in Russia, México, Canada, Uganda, Colombia, Argentina, Spain, Japan, New Zealand, and his native Chile. He was also an accomplished author, with publications in both English and Spanish on mediation, agriculture, and labor management. Gregorio’s interest in both conflict management and writing runs in his family. His paternal grandfather, Jacob Billikopf, is listed as a “notable arbitrator” whose writings are included in Cornell University archives and elsewhere. Jacob Billikopf was also involved in social work, Jewish philanthropy and labor arbitration. Gregorio’s great-grandfather Louis Marshall was a corporate, constitutional, and civil rights lawyer, as well as a mediator and Jewish community leader. On his Chilean side, Gregorio was related to Francisco Antonio Encina, author of the 20 volume Historia de Chile.
Gregorio’s special interests included amateur radio, chess, and studying the Hebrew Holy Scriptures. For several years, he worked diligently to improve his proficiency in reading biblical Hebrew. Gregorio was passionate about reading the scriptures and sharing his faith. He delighted in his eleven grandchildren: Eliza, Sadie, Levi, Grant, Brenden, Joanna, Sierra, Madelyn, Nathan, Charlotte, and Olivia. Friends and family are invited to attend his memorial service on Friday, July 21, 2023 at 10am at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (1155 Liberty Lane, Lincoln, CA 95648). Interment following at Roseville Cemetery (421 Berry St, Roseville, CA 95678). Price Funeral Chapel (916-725-2109), directors.