Long-time community leader Tillie Bishop passed away last month at the age of 86. Many hundreds of people attended a memorial service for Tillie, hosted by CMU, on June 25th. Appropriate tribute was paid to his many legislative accomplishments and his huge commitment to higher education through his decades of service as Dean of Students at Mesa State College. Later in life he would serve on both the Colorado Mesa University Board of Trustees and on the University of Colorado Board of Regents.
One slide in the tribute tried to capture the essence of this extraordinary man in four words: Statesman, Educator, Philanthropist, Coloradan. For those of us involved in the public service and nonprofit community, philanthropist is perhaps the most important descriptor. The word “philanthropy” comes from the Latin, “love of man.” Tillie Bishop was indeed a philanthropist. Certainly generous with his money, Tillie also gave – in a huge way – of his time and expertise to many. The range of organizations and causes Tillie supported in this community was extraordinary, from the Legends Sculpture Project and Great Outdoors Colorado and wildlife preservation (Tilman Bishop State Wildlife Area in Palisade) to his many education interests including Rocky Mountain PBS, D51 Foundation and vocational training at the WCCC Tilman Bishop Campus (“Tillie Tech”).
Tillie was one of the local community leaders who was visited by our Community Foundation founders, Herb Bacon and Pat Gormley, in the early days of our start up. Tillie’s wife, Pat, remembers the meeting in their living room and Tillie’s excitement about the promise and potential of a local community foundation. The Bishops established an endowed fund in their name in 2011 and were steady donors to our foundation. Our Community Foundation is one of several foundations included in the Bishops’ estate plans. Tillie loved “being in the room where things happened,” facilitating new projects and policies and legislation – new deals that would create positive change to benefit others across the state of Colorado. He indeed put into action his strong belief in serving others and a deep love of mankind.
Rest in peace, statesman extraordinaire and champion of education, good friend of the community, and a very special philanthropist.
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