Longtime UD Trustee, DFW Philanthropist Passes Away
Date published: March 28, 2016
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
“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.