Making a Difference: In Memoriam
The Reverend William Marion “Gil” Gilfillin grew up in Greenville and was a graduate of Greenville High School and Furman University. Gil taught school before attending St. Luke’s Seminary in Sewanee, Tennessee. After he was ordained into the Episcopal priesthood, Gilfillin served churches in Columbia and Wilmington, North Carolina where he was instrumental in starting a soup kitchen.
Gilfillin later returned to Greenville and served his community in many ways. Gil served as president of the Torch Club and on the board of Rosewood. He was very involved at Christ Church and an active member of the Poinsett Club and the historic Cotillion Club, one of Greenville’s oldest social institutions.
For Gilfillin, service was in his bloodline. His grandfather was involved in the establishment of the local United Way and his family’s culture remained one of giving back. An outspoken observer of people, his friend of many years Clifford Gaddy, recalled how Gilfillin could be as generous as he was blunt. His friend remembered Gilfillin’s skill in the kitchen which led to small offerings such as inviting groups of people into his home for sandwiches after church, to hosting larger Thanksgiving feasts. But Gilfillin was also concerned about the fate of Greenville’s working class who fought hard to get ahead, yet were often held back by the economy and offshoring. “His compassion for others who may not be afforded opportunities led him to be philanthropic,” says Gaddy.
Gilfillin considered himself a savvy investor, and with the help of Tracy Hardaway, his financial advisor at UBS Wealth Management, he planned to leave his estate to charities that had great meaning to him. Chief among them were the United Way, Christ Church, and the Community Foundation.
Bill Hunt, who worked for Gilfillin for 20 years, says, “I know it sounds cliché, but Gil just wanted to make the world a better place and help people.” Gilfillin passed away in April 2014, but thanks to his generosity, his legacy will support his beloved Greenville for many years to come.