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Remembering Governor Gilligan

John Joyce (“Jack”) Gilligan died on August 26, 2013 at his home in Cincinnati, surrounded by his wife and family.  He was 92 years old.  He graduated from St. Xavier High School and University of Notre Dame. In WWII he was awarded a Silver Star for gallantry in action, having served in both the Pacific and Atlantic theaters for the Navy.  He spent much of the rest of his life promoting peace, as a Democratic anti-war candidate for the U.S. Senate in 1968, as the Director for the Agency of International Development, and as the Co-Founder and Director of the Kroc Institute for Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame.

He served the people of Ohio in many elected offices: as Governor (1971-1975), as a Member of Congress (1965 – 1967), and as a Member of the Cincinnati City Council for 7 terms starting in 1953.  He was an English Professor at Xavier University, served as the director of the Civic Forum at the University of Cincinnati Law School, and twice was elected Member of the Cincinnati School Board, until his retirement at age 86.

As a member of the 89th Congress, he helped pass the Voting Rights Act, Medicare and Medicaid, the Freedom of Information Act to insure open government, and appropriated more money for education, primary through university, than all the previous Congresses combined.

As Governor, he rescued Ohio from fiscal turmoil.  He enacted the corporate and personal income tax to properly fund State services, started the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, cleaned up mental health institutions and prisons, and enacted campaign finance reform.  As an elected Member of the Cincinnati Board of Education, he spearheaded the effort to build community learning centers to allow the new public schools in Cincinnati to be neighborhood centers for learning, health and social services that offer a real opportunity for even the poorest children to succeed with their education.

Jack Gilligan believed that politics was the noblest of professions.  He believed that citizens could work together to solve their most difficult problems.  He reminded us never to underestimate the intelligence of the voters or to overestimate the quality of information they have to make decisions vital to their lives.

His children and grandchildren have followed him into public service, from the cabinet of the President, to governor, to community development and foundations, to school boards and legislative staff work, and many other efforts to build better communities.

He is survived by his wife, Dr. Susan Fremont and his four children, Donald (Gina Maniscalco), Kathleen (K. Gary Sebelius), John (Megan Mountain), and Ellen (Charlie  DeSando); his grandchildren, Hannah (K.C. Commoss), Dan (Dana), James (Becky), Ned Sebelius (Lisa Rockefeller), Joseph (Stephanie), John Sebelius (Allie Hoeme), Luke DeSando, Carlo DeSando; great-grandchildren, Kathryn and Ames Commoss, George Sebelius, Allie Lu Gilligan and Miles Gilligan; his brother, Harry, Jr. (Mike), and his sisters-in-law, Lucille Dixon, Nancy Gilligan and caregiver, Frank  Kennedy.

Predeceased by his beloved wife of 52 years and the mother of his children, Mary Kathryn, his father, Harry Sr. and mother, Blanche, his older twin sister, Jeanne Derrick, his brother, Frank, his brother-in-law, Dr. J. Gordon Dixon, and his son, Brian, who died at birth.

In lieu of flowers, donations in his memory can be offered to: The John J. Gilligan Scholarship, Center for the American Dream, Xavier University, 3800 Victory Parkway, Cincinnati, Ohio 45207-1221; or Hospice of Cincinnati, 4360 Cooper Road, Cincinnati, Ohio 45242.  His body has been donated to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center.

A program open to all celebrating his life and career will be held at the Ohio State Capital Building, 1 Capital Square, Columbus, Ohio 43215, on September 5, 2013, from 10:30 to 12:30 PM.

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