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Bellville Times

Thomas S. Gillis, Jr. died peacefully in his sleep on April 19, 2010.

He was born on Feb. 2, 1921 to Mabel Shannon Gillis and Thomas Stratton Gillis. Tom was raised in Ft. Worth and graduated from Paschal High School. He attended Texas A&M University and received numerous honors.

He was Cadet Colonel, Commander of the Corps and Valedictorian of his class. He was the first student in 66 years to graduate with a straight “A” record. He was also the editor of the student newspaper, a member of Ross Volunteers, Honor graduate of his class, and author of the Cadence, the manual of traditions of A&M utilized by Corps members. After graduating in 1942, he was an anti-aircraft artillery officer assigned to Boeing field and later became part of General Patton’s 3rd Army staff, rising to the rank of Major at age 26.  After World War II he was a military governor of a German provence.

In 1947 he married Frances Roensch, his devoted wife of 62 years. They had three children, Susan, Amy and Stratton. Tom became a CPA, practicing with the predecessor firm to Ernst & Young as well as an attorney, practicing with the predecessor of the current Locke, Lord, Bissell & Liddell firm.

In 1958 he founded Best Industries, Inc., an oil tool manufacturer, which he sold in 1978 to Varco International. Tom later wrote the book “Guts & Borrowed Money”, a text for starting and growing a small business, which was used by a number of universities in their entrepreneurial programs. He taught entrepreneurship at the University of Houston for many years. He also taught around the world, including Turkey, Austria, Russia, Uzbekistan and Semester at Sea. He had a passion for travel and obtaining knowledge of various cultures.

Tom was a member of River Oaks Breakfast Club, Silver Fox Advisors, and St. Martins Episcopal Church.

Tom was preceded in death by his parents, his sister Shannon Kelly, and his daughter Susan. 

He is survived by his wife Frances, son Stratton Gillis and wife Jayne, daughter Amy Gillis Schwartz and husband Marcus, grandchildren Marcus F. Schwartz, Jr., Gillis G. Schwartz and Adelaide G. Schwartz, nephew Frank Kelly and wife Linda and niece Carolyn Cory and husband Bob.

Tom will be remembered for his loud laugh, outgoing personality, dignity and honor.

There will be a private family service in Bellville, Texas.  In lieu of flowers, the family requests that contributions be made to the Texas A&M Foundation for support of  the Corp of Cadets in honor of Thomas S. Gillis, 401 George Bush, College Station, Texas 77840.       

Services under the direction of Knesek Bros Funeral Chapel, 842 E. Main, Bellville, TX 77418.  Visit our web site for Guest Book signing and Sympathy Cards


Posted by Joy Neely


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