Born in Dallas on Nov. 5, 1927, to an Italian immigrant family, former University of Dallas trustee and Dallas/Fort Worth philanthropist Eugene (Gene) Vilfordi passed away on March 21, 2016. His kindness and humor will be much missed by those who knew him.
“He had a hopeful, generous view of life,” said University Historian Sybil Novinski. “His gentle sense of humor resulted in many rhyming speeches; in the Archives, I have a whole book of these wonderful doggerels. He had an amazing ability to laugh and put things in perspective.”
In the North Texas Catholic community, the name “Gene Vilfordi” has long brought a smile to people’s faces, including those in the UD community, which was blessed with his leadership, intelligence and joyful spirit for more than two decades. Vilfordi served on UD’s Board of Trustees for 20 years, from 1991 to 2011. He was chairman of the Endowment Committee from 1997 to 2009 and even after his retirement from the board remained involved in that committee as an ad hoc member. His wisdom and comprehension of the markets were invaluable to those board members charged with ensuring good returns on the endowment.
Another of Vilfordi’s many contributions to UD was the Vilfordi Plaza, which includes the bridge over Madonna Pond that provides a connection from the campus core to the UD DART Orange Line station, both enabling students to access the DART Orange Line more easily and making the university more accessible to the greater community. The plaza, located at the corner of Tom Braniff Drive and State Highway 114, features lush landscaping and the arched footbridge over the pond and fountain. In 2014, the City of Irving’s Parks and Recreation Department recognized UD with a Beautification Award for the Vilfordi Plaza and campus gateways.
In 2004, Vilfordi received an Elizabeth Ann Seton Award, the highest award given for leaders in Catholic education. He believed in education as a primary means of advancement and improvement, and he served on the boards of Ursuline Academy and Cistercian Preparatory School in addition to that of UD. He also co-chaired the bishop’s Inner City School Endowment Campaign and the Dave Fox Inner City School Fund.
There will be a prayer service with recitation of the rosary and family visitation on Monday, March 28, at 7 p.m. at St. Rita Catholic Community Church in Dallas. Mass of Christian burial will be celebrated at St. Rita on Tuesday, March 29, at 10 a.m.
The full obituary is available here.