Former Board Chairman Pat Gilligan Surprised With Wallace Pate Award
RENO, Nev.—The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation honored former board chairman Pat Gilligan at Elk Camp’s Saturday night Grand Banquet with the organization’s highest honor, the Wallace Fennell Pate Wildlife Conservation Award. Named for the organization’s first chairman of the board, the award is given for exemplary volunteer service to the foundation, its members, mission and future.
His persistence and vision for the future of elk and other wildlife landed Gilligan the coveted award.
During his acceptance speech, Gilligan told a story to explain the way he feels about the Elk Foundation’s work. An old letter he bought at an auction, handwritten by Teddy Roosevelt, one of America’s true conservation heroes, and addressed to John Hornady (Hornady Bullets) captured the spirit of the Elk Foundation. Roosevelt wrote about an African hunt he had recently taken and how he wanted to share his experience and some of the magnificent mounts he’d brought back with members of the Campfire Club, an organization to which both men belonged.
“But make sure the press isn’t there,” Roosevelt wrote. “They won’t understand. They won’t get it.”
“And he’s right,” Gilligan said. “We get it. And we’ll continue to get it—this organization that I love and will continue to love. I think I was 39 years old when I got involved (with the Elk Foundation). It’s been a big chunk of my life.
“This organization is based on love—the people that get involved, the volunteers that make this thing work...the volunteers are what it’s all about. To the rest of you I want to thank you for this wonderful award. I had no knowledge of it. I certainly don’t deserve it, but I do love the Elk Foundation, and we get it!”
When Rodger Fleming, chairman of the Foundation’s awards committee, presented Gilligan with the bronze depicting the Foundation’s first chairman of the board Wallace Pate, he said, “You are a true conservation hero and a volunteer with spirit.”
Gilligan grew up and still lives in the San Francisco Bay area. His father taught him the pleasures of hunting ducks at an early age. He was a longtime supporter of Ducks Unlimited and the California Waterfowl Association, and he joined the Elk Foundation in 1990. Gilligan helped create and run the Golden Gate Chapter in San Francisco. From there he became the California state chair, eventually serving on the board of directors from 1994-2000 and as its chairman in 1998 and 1999.
Gilligan was the first man to recognize the Elk Foundation’s need for a new headquarters building and passionately pushed the organization to move forward with the project. He and his wife Shelley were instrumental in sustaining the capital campaign with a half-million dollar lead gift. The Gilligan family name will proudly appear as a major capital campaign donor in our new headquarters facility.
“Folks, we’re proud to have him riding for our brand,” said Elk Foundation President/CEO J. Dart. “His optimistic vision—and his willingness to apply the spurs at the right moment—were both the catalyst and a sustaining force behind the Elk Foundation’s new home.”
Conservation and hunting are values Gilligan has passed on to his family. “Pat, Shelley and their children, Sara and Patrick Jr., all hunt together. One of the very first gifts Pat gave his wife Shelley was a 20-gauge shotgun. It was a bold move, and not one I recommend,” Dart smiled. “But obviously it worked for the Gilligans. They’re celebrating their 35th anniversary this year.”
Congratulations, Pat, and thank you for your continued support of the Elk Foundation’s mission to ensure the future of elk, other wildlife and their habitat!