Life of dedication

Red bricks carved with names and messages of memory and gratitude lay reflecting a key in the fall morning’s dew.

Black and gold with letters stretched proudly across its chest, this key is the focal point of the academic endowment park at the north entrance of the Smith-Hutson Business Building.

This key is Gilmore’s gift.

Last week on Nov. 8, Sam Houston State University said goodbye to Dr. James E. Gilmore.

“There is perhaps no other SHSU alumnus whose life has been so intricately woven into the fabric of Sam Houston State University as that of James Gilmore. For more than 40 years, he has touched the lives of literally thousands of SHSU students while making indelible contributions to the educational quality of the university” Today at Sam press release said in 1998.

Born on April 7, 1926 in Port Arthur, TX, Gilmore graduated from Silsbee High school and was drafted into the army, during World War II, where he toured the Philippines.

After being honorably discharged, young Gilmore made his way to Sam Houston State University.

In 1949, Gilmore earned his bachelor of Business Administration degree from SHSU, and went on to teach business at Buna High School until 1956. He then returned to Sam in 1957, earning his Masters of Arts degree and began teaching as a Professor of Finance.

In 1965, back when IBM was the “blue chip of blue chip stocks,” a young freshman sat in the business building at Sam Houston State University contemplating about a symbol selling much higher then the other stocks on the list.

“Its symbol was IBMit, or something similar. Without thinking it through, as I should, I shot my hand up and asked Dr. Gilmore what stock that was selling so high,” Dr. James Gaertner, Sam Houston State University President said.

“He paused and said, ‘well Jim, that’s IBM’ and quickly went to another subject to limit my embarrassment in front of the class,” Gaertner said.

From the time he was a 19 year old student until he was a 65 year old president, Gaertner said Gilmore was a “great mentor and friend.”

While his career began as a professor, Gilmore also went on to become the chair of the department of General Business and Finance; the Associate Dean of the College of Business Administration; Dean of the College of Business Administration; and Vice President of Academic Affairs.

Preceded by Gilmore as the Vice President of Academic Affairs, Dr. David Payne said he met him when the two overlapped the position for a month.

While Gilmore carried on some of the day to day duties, Payne said he was able to learn the ropes of this particular university.

“Jim Gilmore was the perfect Southern gentleman. Charming, gracious and thoughtful, with a delightful gentle sense of humor,” Payne said.

Payne said of Gilmore’s various roles here, he also gave great service to Sam Houston State.

“Most notably his role as dean of business, leading that college to AACSB accreditation, that was a very big step for that college and he played a very critical role in doing that,” he said.

The AACSB is the International Association for Management Education.

According to SHSU public relations in 1998, “The College of Business Administration at Sam Houston State University joined the ranks of the nation’s most prestigious schools in 1996, when accredited by the AACSB.”

In 1997, Gilmore retired after contributing as many as 41 years of service, honored as a Distinguished SHSU Alumnus along with the honorary title “Dean and Professor Emeritus,” and was initiated into the college of Business Hall of Fame in 2006.

Gilmore, who is said to have “spearheaded the successful accreditation effort,” was honored by COBA with the James E. Gilmore Academic Endowment Park at the Smith-Hutson Building.

The park includes benches and a table for socializing, and fundraising paver stones surrounding a “Beta Gamma Sigma Key icon, which is the highest national recognition a student in business can receive in undergraduate or master’s programs at schools accredited by the AACSB.”

“We are extremely grateful for the many contributions Dr. Gilmore has made to our program during his distinguished tenure,” R. Dean Lewis, COBA dean said in 1998 press release. “With the James E. Gilmore academic Endowment Park, we have the opportunity to honor this remarkable man and benefit the institution to which he has dedicated a lifetime of service.”

From 1982 to July of 2009, the University of Advancement office said Gilmore gave over $10,000 in donations.

In the summer of 2007, a bench was dedicated in honor and gratitude of Gilmore by Ron Mafrige, which can be found at the college of business.

Beyond SHSU

According to Sam Houston Memorial Funeral services, Gilmore was a “life member and past president of the Texas Business Education Association and received a doctoral degree from the University of Houston.”

He also served as the President of the Huntsville Rotary Club from 1973-1974.

“The members of Huntsville Rotary thrive in our community year after year by bringing to life Rotary International’s motto which is ‘Service above self.’ The member’s of our club are business and professional leaders who excel by taking active roles in their community while enriching their personal and professional lives,” the Rotary Club’s President’s message said.

“Survived by his wife of 52 years, Dorothy Jo; daughters Susan Gilmore Hopper and husband Wade Hopper of Kingwood, and Kathy Gilmore Gilcrease of Huntsville; grandsons Michael Hopper of Houston and Landon Hopper of Kingwood.” Perhaps above all, Gilmore’s proudest gift was the gift of love and life.

“He was a very loving and gentle husband and father. I never saw him in anyway, anything less than that,” Payne said. “He was always courteous, always thoughtful, and always helpful.”

Service and Contributions

“Visitation was held on Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2009 at Sam Houston Memorial Funeral Home. Service was held on Wednesday, Nov. 11 at First Baptist Church in Huntsville. Special services were held at Interment Adickes Addition of Oakwood Cemetery in Huntsville.

Reverend Carroll Williams officiated and Dr. R. Dean Lewis, Dr. Bob K. Marks, and Dr. Jim Gaertner delivered eulogies. Pallbearers included Dr. Mitchell Muehsam, Dr. Leroy Ashorn, Dr. Ennis Hawkins, Mr. R.D. Hopper, Mr. Ralph Lawson, and Mr. Billy Vandiver. Michael Hopper, Landon Hopper, and Wade Hopper served as honorary pallbearers.

Memorial donations may be made to the endowment establishment in his honor by the College of Business Administration.

Those wishing to leave memorial condolences for the family may do so at

Contributed information courtesy of the President’s office, Sam Houston Memorial Funeral, Today at Sam, and the College of Business and Administration.

Leave a Reply