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Chuck Gilson '56 Is Committed to History Repeating Itself


It makes sense for an alumnus who taught high school history for more than 30 years to make a gift that invigorates history education at Saint Michael's College. Not only did Chuck Gilson '56 major in education, but, as a student, he helped drive Saint Michael's history. 

"I'd often drive Father (Eugene) Alliot over where some Carmelites had a place, and we'd have great talks on the way...about the Third Republic of France and when the Society of Saint Edmund was thrown out of the country," Chuck says. 

Chuck's personal acquaintance with elderly priests like Alliot deepened his lifelong connection to Saint Michael's and the Edmundites. It also energized his enthusiasm for history, which became his career. Chuck taught world history to several generations of high school students in his hometown of Pittsfield, Mass., after Army service and history graduate work at Boston College. But he never lost sight of Saint Michael's. 

'No One Is Immortal'
"I loved the place," Chuck said. "I was even studying in the order for a while, and so I still keep contact with a lot of those fellows." Longtime Edmundite friends include the late Rev. Maurice Boucher, SSE, at Saint Anne's Shrine, and Rev. Ray Doherty, SSE, who still lives on campus. 

Before he retired several years ago, his work as an educator included duty with the college board as an adviser for advanced placement exams in history. Now 77, Chuck explained what motivated his $250,000 estate gift. 

"No one is immortal on the planet, and I have been beginning to think about what to do with my money," he says. 

The Next Chapter
Chuck decided he would like his gift to benefit programs in the history department, such as bringing guest speakers to campus. He hopes his investments make it possible to endow a chair in the history department, adding, "I love to follow the stock market." 

Another hobby combines his interests in photography, architecture and travel. "I'm compiling a pictorial inventory of every Catholic church in the United States," Chuck says. "I must have 20,000 pictures right now." 

Chuck said he visits Saint Michael's a "couple times a summer" and hopes to honor with his gift the tough but inspirational professors of his era who cherished the classical tradition and shared it brilliantly—professors like Jeremiah Durick, who taught him Shakespeare. "They were strong personalities, those guys. That's when there were clearer answers to things, and they exuded an authority that awed us." 

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