Don't let the grass grow under your feet!
  • 90 years old
  • Born on July 18, 1925 in India.
  • Passed away on July 9, 2016 in Mountain View, California, United States.

With his family at his side, Noor Billawala peacefully passed away in the early evening of Saturday, July 9, 2016 after a long hard-fought battle with cancer.

Born in India on July 18, 1925, Noor was almost 91 years old when he passed.  As the oldest son in a family with four boys and two girls who lived together in a one bedroom apartment in Bombay, he was a standout student and the trailblazer of the family.  Noor left India in 1947 to come to the United States and study at UC Berkeley where he received a BS in Electrical Engineering, an MS in Physics, and an MBA, and was enrolled in a Ph.D. program at Stanford until family obligations required him to leave to provide for his family after his wife passed away.

He worked at Sylvania before hanging his own shingle and working as a real estate broker which led into his investing in real estate and developing properties.  Along the way Noor, at one time or another, owned homes on Grenola Drive, Bubb Road, and Fort Baker Drive in Cupertino, Santas Village in Scotts Valley and the Ranch across the street, a 168-acre property on Glenwood Drive in Scotts Valley, the property later developed as Rainbow's End in Cupertino, the Chaparral Ranch in Milpitas, the Henry Hotel in San Francisco, a development in Saratoga where he named the streets "Abdulla Way" after his father and "Emanuel Court" after his second wife's father, 13 acres in the Montalvo area of Saratoga where he raised his family in a quirky but awesome home, the Airport Inn (later Clarion Hotel) in San Jose, and many more properties.

Noor would never give up, no matter what setbacks life dealt him--financial, medical, or family tragedy.

He met his first wife, Toshiko Onouye, while attending Cal and together they had two daughters, Taj and Nina, and a son, Omar.  In 1961 when Omar was born, there were complications and Toshiko did not survive.  Noor placed a detailed advertisement for a nanny in the newspaper and hired Christa Becker who, a little more than three years later, would become his second wife.  Christa brought to the family a son, Christopher, and daughter, Francisca, from her prior marriage.  After they married, both Noor and Christa adopted each other's children.  Not wanting to waste time, Noor's third son, Yakoub was born nine months and one day after the wedding.  And finally, the fourth son and seventh child, Youssef came along four years later.  In 2003, Christa lost her battle with cancer.  But, Noor did not despair and found love again and married Neela Sayler in 2007 after getting down on one knee and proposing at Neela's 72nd birthday party.

Noor was always willing to lend a helping hand to his family, the Muslim Community Association, the Hindu Temple and many others who needed help.  Over the years he produced the spectacular Scotts Valley Calvalcade show in 1976 and 1977, owned and operated Santa's Village, a costume shop, a Scott's Valley newspaper--The Valley Times, a hotel and restaurant, and many other businesses.

Noor leaves behind his wife, a brother, 2 sisters, 7 children, 11 grandchildren, 5 nephews, 9 nieces, and many more who cared deeply for him.

As per Dad's wishes, he was buried at Madronia Cemetery in Saratoga on July 15th.  His memorial service was held on August 13th at First Congregational Church of San Jose.  A program can be found at

Posted by David Elliott on July 23, 2019
Noor was one of the most interesting people I have ever known and I shall always be grateful for his friendship. We all miss him at our monthly luncheons of the senior men's group from First Congregational Church.  We shall never forget his candor and his determination to see to it that things are done right.
Posted by Detlef Wagner on July 21, 2018
Nobody could say it better. Dad, you were the most amiable, gentle and generous person I ever knew. I will miss your voice over the ocean, your smile that was so close and perceptible even through the phone and so many memories we shared. We will meet some day over there and please reserve a seat in your white lounge in paradise for me and say " What the heck" as we used to do... Love Carla
Posted by Debbie Muth on July 29, 2016
I am touched by the many family photos and remembrances. It is very evident he will be greatly missed. Scotts Valley was positively shaped by his involvement. Our condolences, Debbie Muth and the Scotts Valley Historical Society.
Posted by Donna Lind on July 27, 2016
Noor was such a key figure in the City of Scotts Valley's history. I worked 40 years for the City and was elected to City Council after retirement. Noor gave a great deal, love his contribution to the Calvacades years ago and only wish his proposed developments for the City could have moved forward. He was a great guy and will definitely be missed. Donna Lind, City of Scotts Valley Mayor
Posted by David Elliott on July 26, 2016
Noor was a genuine inspiration to the members of our First Congregational Church senior men's group. His unfailing energy and remarkable personal courage were the perfect antidote for the discouragement that sometimes comes with advanced years. He enjoyed the love and affection of every one among us, and will not be forgotten.
Posted by Ella Herman on July 18, 2016
Thank you for everything Mr. B

i will always remember and be thankful for knowing you

Posted by Robert Papiri on July 18, 2016
Noor was truly a visionary, a man of infinite wisdom, a beacon of inspiration , and a coach to all of us about life, he touched many including myself, i learned new things every time we met, i will miss him , but consider myself lucky that our paths crossed.
Robert Papiri
Posted by Manesh Shah on July 18, 2016
I met Noor when he was courting Neila. I was impressed with his energy in spite of his age. I attended his wedding to Neila. He was a great individual and I was very happy to have known him. I will certainly miss him.
Posted by Carla Krieger on July 18, 2016
Dad, thank you for everything you gave to me, the influence you had on my life and the adorable example you always were for me. I' m sure we have a spiritual connection and we'll meet again in another dimension. I felt that something was wrong, a strong uneasiness and the need to call you which couldn't wait until your birthday and then Neela answered the phone...I'll miss talking to you and sending pictures, there is so much I still wanted to tell you. When we met almost 6 years ago we just laughed out loud because we realized that both of us hadn't changed at all and the old familiar feeling was there in an instant. You are one of the most adorable persons I ever knew and my heart is full of memories. You had so much confidence in me which gave me a lot of strength. You allowed us (Fran, Chris and me) , 3 kids at 17, 15, and 13 , a few weeks after I had my driver's license to take your car and go to LA together...I also think it's not coincidential that worked as a broker for so many years, I always admired you. I love you and miss you and your spirit will always be around, there are things that stay forever...
Posted by Cathy Becker on July 13, 2016
I will miss you so much Uncle Noor :( I remember last Christmas you met my boyfriend and you were so accepting of him and made him feel so at home:) that's what family is all about❤️ you will be greatly missed. Give my Papa a hug up there for me. Gone but not forgotten.. love Ana
Posted by Cathy Becker on July 13, 2016
Words cannot describe how much we are so affected by your passing, You have been a symbol of peace and love for all of us. It is so sad to see you all by one... I guess you will be having Kaffe und Kuchen with the rest of the family that went ahead of you. Give my love to my dear Peter. We miss him down here so much. Ana and I will always treasure your memories in our hearts. Rest in peace my dear Brother in law. We are mourning your demise ... We love you... Till we see each other again. Always, Cathy
Posted by Mertze Dahlin on July 12, 2016
You were always there Noor; to help your first daughter Taj and my daughter Shareen explore your home and keep from getting lost in the rooms over forty years ago. Then it was your organizing my briefcase to make my life more efficient, and then you guided our Muslim community to economically purchase our Islamic Center. You developed our history. These were just some of your accomplishments, anybody else can easily continue to add more.
Posted by RUBEN PERFETTO on July 12, 2016
I going to miss you Mr B
You allway was a important part of my life.
Thank you for all what you done for me.
Posted by Charlene Shaughnessy on July 12, 2016
Mr. B was a shining example of kindness to others and dedicated work ethics. He would be at the Hotel 7 days a week no matter what. He will be missed and left a positive thoughtful memory in my mind, the world needs more Mr. B's.... RIP Mr. B
Posted by Ute Becker on July 11, 2016
Dear Noor,

I do not think that I ever met another person who was like you: gracious, kind, giving, patient, loving, generous, determined, intelligent, considerate, endlessly hospitable, such dedicated father, grandfather, husband, in all ways so very special. All of that and handsome too. The space you leave is a big hole.

Outside my sisters and brother you are the one person whom I have known longer than any other. So many memories of good times, sometimes hard ones too.
You included so many in your life, considered them family even me a divorced in-law.

I wish I would know how to comfort your wife, daughters and sons with spouses and grandchildren during this difficult time of seeing you off to another world. You will be missed so much.

The good thing is that there are great memories, some a bit amusing: You being able to take a nap on the spot for only 10 minutes, learning how to dance. I remember when we went to the city with guests from Germany and tried to get into the fancy bar on top of the Fairmont. They did not let us in as the men were not wearing ties. We were creative and made them with scarfs. It worked! Afternoon was saved.

You are in my heart and will always stay there.
Posted by Julia Becherer on July 11, 2016
Dear Noor,

although it has been many, many years since I saw you the last time you and your family have always been in my heart and in my memories.
When I came to California in 1998 your house in Saratoga was my first home where we enjoyed so many wonderful moments! I remember sleeping outside on an air mattress watching the stars or having fun with Easter-egg-hunting together with the whole family.
I would have loved to meet you again!
You will be missed so much, you have been loved so much!
Thanks Noor - you'll be in my heart, next to Christa and together with all the fantastic memories I have!
Posted by Terry Murphy on July 10, 2016
You will be missed Noor . You are one of the nicest person I've ever known. I have known you since 1985 and during all those years you are one of the person that we can call on in time of emergency. Saratoga days was also so memorable for me . Coffee time every 3:00 pm with the family and it was lovely. Saratoga was the first place I have known as home because you let us stay in the your home , I can remember many more but you will be missed . May you be in the palm of the lord always.Thank Noor .

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