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Jim '51 and Jane Gillis

Jim '51 and Jane Gillis

Gifts to the University come in many forms. For Jim and Jane Gillis, their love for the University has produced gifts that will have a lasting impact on the University, in the form of both planned gifts as well as a series of books about Notre Dame that help to fund an endowed scholarship.

It all started in 1934 when Jim was seven years old and living in southern California. Jim's father took him to a Notre Dame vs. USC game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Jim fell in love with Notre Dame at that game and his dream of attending the University came true when he received a baseball scholarship in 1948 and had the opportunity to play for Jake Kline, who was head coach at Notre Dame for 42 seasons.

Jim and Jane met at the end of Jim's freshman year at a party at Jane's house. Even though Jim had brought a date to the party, he had Jane's phone number by the end of the evening. After dating for two years and two months, they married at the end of Jim's junior year at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart. They welcomed the birth of their first child, Karen, the following year, just three days before Jim's graduation. The couple recently celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary!

In the years following Jim's graduation, the couple was blessed with a son and three more daughters, as well as nine grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. Jim played professional baseball and then worked for nine years for the FBI as an agent. The couple moved frequently during these years and each of their five children was born in a different city.

Eventually, Jim and Jane settled in southern California and spent 30 years in radio, one of Jim's loves from his time at Notre Dame. Jim recalls his undergraduate days as a radio announcer for Notre Dame's men's basketball team. He had the opportunity to travel with the team and at one particular game in 1951, invited Father Hesburgh to be his half-time guest. In 1979, Jim and Jane started their own business, Gillis Broadcasting, Beverly Hills, representing stations across the country for 20 years.

When Coach Kline passed away in 1989, Jim received a call from his widow, Edith Kline, requesting they visit her the next time they came to South Bend. At that visit, Mrs. Kline presented Jim with Coach Kline's Knights of Columbus ring that he had purchased in Utah in 1922. Coach Kline had requested that Jim have this ring when he passed. To be honored to receive his beloved coach's ring was one of the most emotional moments of Jim's life.

Jim and Jane were inspired in 1992 to start Jim and Jane Gillis Grant-in-Aid Scholarship for Baseball as a way to show gratitude for Jim's opportunity to attend Notre Dame. Ever loyal, the couple has also made a number of annual gifts to the University and in 2003, Jim and Jane established a bequest to the University.

In 2004, the Gillises began to take advantage of the highly competitive annual payouts and the significant income tax savings provided by making gifts to Notre Dame in the form of Charitable Gift Annuities. With Notre Dame's AAA credit rating (according to Moody's Investors Service) and investment ethics, these gifts provide the Gillises with a steady income stream during their lifetime due to the management of the University's resources and its fiscal conservatism.

And at a time when most people's lives begin to slow down, the Gillis have become prolific authors of their favorite subject, Notre Dame. Since 2005, the couple has published three books about Notre Dame and have a fourth in the works. Continually giving back, they use the proceeds from these books to help fund their scholarship.

The first book, A Son of Notre Dame, Jim's autobiography, was published in 2005. Jim and Jane then co-authored, Cemetery Beneath the Golden Dome: A History of Cedar Grove Cemetery at the University of Notre Dame, 1830 to 2013, published in 2013 and includes a forward from Father Hesburgh. Jane then wrote her own book, Prominent People of Notre Dame Past and Present Cookbook published in 2014. Their fourth book will be a history of Holy Cross Community Cemetery.

Thank you Jim and Jane for your numerous contributions to Our Lady's University. Your energy and enthusiasm are truly inspiring.


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