Vol. 17, No. 29April 30, 1998

Fitting tribute

 Family members share their memories and vision

Gore Hall, UD's new landmark classroom building, was dedicated April 25 in loving memory of W.L. Gore and in honor of Genevieve W. Gore, Sarah I. Gore '76M, and Robert W. Gore '59.

At the ceremony, Genevieve Gore shared memories of life with her late husband, Wilbert L. ("Bill") Gore, who co-founded their family's business, W.L. Gore & Associates, in the basement of their first home in Newark, and later discovered a method of expanding the polymer PTFE, which led to GORE-TEX® products.

The couple met while they were both attending the University of Utah, Vieve Gore said. Whenever they had free time, she said, they would climb the nearby mountainside, and then sit atop the large "U" in the Utah sign, which was hanging above the city.

"We were planning a family," she explained, "and we wondered what we would teach them."

After graduating, she said, Bill Gore went to work for the Remington Arms Co., a unit of the DuPont Co.

They lived in seven different locations before finally arriving in Newark, she said. In each of their homes, Vieve Gore said, the family sought inspiration and support from a nearby university.

In Newark, the Gores quickly met faculty within UD's Department of Philosophy, she said, and they invited a number of professors to their home, to discuss philosophical issues. Later, the Gores invited the renowned Russian-born U.S. writer, Ayn Rand (1905-1982) to campus, and their relationship with UD continued to grow stronger.

In 1983, Bill and Vieve Gore both received UD Medals of Distinction, during a ceremony where then-Vice President George Bush also was honored.

Ironically, the Gore family's first temporary Newark home, located at 24 Kent Way, now houses the Department of Philosophy, said Robert ("Bob") Gore. Bill and Vieve Gore's son-a member of the UD Alumni Wall of Fame, a trustee and a past member of the Board of Directors of the University of Delaware Research Foundation-said he also spent considerable time in UD's Pearson Hall, which when he was younger was the location of Newark High School.

The Gore family's $17.5 million gift, resulting in the construction of Gore Hall, was possible because long ago, Bill Gore had given each of his children some stock, then valued at $1 per share, Bob Gore explained.

"That's where Gore Hall came from," he said, adding that his father's foresight clearly has paid off, since W.L. Gore & Associates now provides jobs for some 7,000 associates.

Gore thanked the many craftspeople, builders and artisans who helped build Gore Hall, saying their attention to detail is evident throughout the facility, which features built-in desks of solid, stained mahogany and Corian® tops.

Sally Gore, a former teacher who received her master's degree from UD in 1976, after devoting many years to keeping a home and raising children with Bob Gore, said that UD's learning environment served as a "catalyst" for her family's scientific accomplishments.

"Education is not preparation for life," she said, quoting John Dewey, "it is life itself." The University allowed the Gore family "to become a building block in the future," Sally Gore said.

Noting that the word "philanthropy" was derived from the Greek words for "loving people," UD Chairman of the Board of Trustees Andrew B. Kirkpatrick Jr. described the Gores as "exceptional people," who have joined the ranks of UD's most generous benefactors.

"To create great wealth along with employment and other opportunities, as the Gores have done is itself a wonderful achievement," Kirkpatrick said. "To use that wealth creatively and constructively, as the Gores have done here, is a particularly great achievement."

-Ginger Pinholster
Photo by Jack Buxbaum