Tom and Pat Gilmore will receive the Willis Fassett, Jr. Award


Pat and Tom Gilmore

Pat and Tom Gilmore

The dictionary definition of 'philanthropy' could be replaced with an image of Tom '67 '68 and Pat '68 Gilmore. Philanthropy: an endeavor intended to increase the well-being of humanity. That would describe the Gilmores and their commitment to their alma mater and their community.

"You do the best you can as you go through life," Tom said. "We make contributions, not just financially, to try and make things better. Pat and I want to leave the world a little better than we found it."

"It is the 'pass it on' philosophy," Pat said. "What we have received we pass on to others."

Dr. Tom Gilmore, emeritus professor of Business, and Pat Gilmore, will accept the Adams State College Willis Fassett, Jr. Award at the Donor Recognition Banquet starting at 6 p.m. Friday, Nov. 3 in the Student Union Building banquet rooms. Joe and Shirley Zanski and Mike Achatz will also be honored on behalf of Adams State College Athletics. For tickets contact the Foundation Office at 719-587-7609.

The Willis Fassett, Jr. Award recognizes outstanding support of the ASC Foundation and is named for Will Fassett, Jr., who devoted his life to the people of the San Luis Valley. He was a prominent business leader in Monte Vista, and also served as President of the ASC Foundation.

Chairman of the ASC Foundation, Jenny Cooper, said there could be no better recipients for the award.

"Tom and Pat Gilmore have devoted virtually their entire adult lives to Adams State," Cooper said. "They have contributed in every way possible, through Tom's career with Pat's dedication, and through their significant support of the Foundation. To honor them in the spirit of the Willis Fassett, Jr. Award could not be more appropriate."

There is probably not a single other person who can say their connection to the college runs any deeper than the Gilmores'. Both received their undergraduate degrees, and Tom his master's from Adams State. Tom spent his entire professional career at the college, starting as a faculty member in the School of Business in 1973, and retiring as president of the college in 2003.

"I believe I was lucky to be associated with the college," Tom said. "Walking home, even after a stressful day, I would realize this is something worthwhile. Contributing to students receiving an education is a good way to spend your life."

Pat taught elementary education for a couple of years in Westminster before the Gilmores married and worked as a stay-at-home mom until her children were older.

"When the kids were in school, I volunteered in many areas. This led to a job as a nurses' aide in the Alamosa Public Schools," Pat said. "My last few years, I was a secretary at Ortega Middle School."

Even after serving seven years as president and participating in more than 20 commencement ceremonies, the solemnity of the occasion was never lost on Tom.

"Every time at graduation there were always a few students that I knew as freshman," Gilmore said. "Despite their early struggles they had succeeded and it made me realize what Adams State does for the individual."

"I see kids at the college getting the confidence they need to succeed," Pat said.

He and Pat created an endowment in honor of his parents and one in memory of Pat's father through the Adams State College Foundation. The scholarships are awarded based on both need and academic achievement.

"As the government continues with cutbacks individuals need to step up and help fund worthy causes," Pat said.

"I can't think of anything better than an education to help someone better their life," Tom said.

During Tom's presidency, $55 million worth of campus improvements were made, and Adams State expanded its services and programs to K-12 educators throughout Colorado.

"Extended Studies took the campus off campus and so did departments like Counselor Education, Teacher Education, and Business," Tom said. "Those departments send professors to distant communities to offer programs in small rural areas where people wouldn't otherwise have access to those degrees."

Tom served as Dean of Adams State's School of Business for ten years. He was named Vice President for External Affairs in 1993; one year later he was moved to Vice President for Administration. He was appointed president in 1995.

"I was always amazed at how generous people were when it came to the college," Tom said. "For every public demonstration of charity, there are those quietly behind the scenes helping as well, and that is wonderful to see."

Tom is currently chairman of the Board of the San Luis Valley Federal Bank, Chairman of the Alamosa Ranch advisory committee, on the economic restructuring committee for the city, and is involved in the Boys and Girls Club. Pat has been active in church work, served on the Alamosa Public Library Board and is a Friend of the Library.

Their youngest child, Erin, said she is proud of her parents.

"They have always been pro-education," Erin said. "As we were growing up our curiosity was encouraged. No subject or question was taboo. My parents have given their children the love of learning and discovering yourself."

The Gilmores contribute to the Boys & Girls Club of the San Luis Valley, La Puente (the SLV's homeless shelter), their church and Adams State College.

Their two sons, Jeff '94 and Mark '98, graduated from Adams State College and so have many of their nieces and nephews.

"We always will have a sense of belonging to the college," Tom said.

From president to nanny, Tom and Pat now devote their time caring for two of their grandchildren, Emma 5 and Parker 16 months.

"We have had a great life and try to give back to the community and our family," Tom said. "We have thoroughly enjoyed our association with Adams State College."

By Linda Relyea