Lougenia and William Gabard Fund

There were no truer students of history than William and Lougenia Gabard.

William “Bill” Montgomery Gabard was born August 17, 1922, in Lewisburg, Tennessee. He was the son of Nell Haynes and William Gabard, Sr. He attended Forrest High School in Chapel Hill, Tennessee, and received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Tennessee, where he was initiated into Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity. Following graduation, he earned his M.A. from Northwestern University, and his Ph.D. from Tulane University in New Orleans.

He served as head of the history department and was the founding Director of International Studies at Valdosta State University from 1948 – 1988. He also held post-doctoral fellowships in Asian history at six different universities, including Columbia University in New York, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and the University of Texas at Arlington.

On November 18, 1961, he married Lougenia “Lou” Gillis, daughter of Jeanie Bell and Neil Lee Gillis, Jr. Lou was born May 10, 1923, in Soperton, Georgia. Lou was a graduate of Brenau College where she studied to be a teacher and was a member of Delta Delta Delta Sorority. Lou would eventually join the faculty of Valdosta State and Valdosta High School.

Lou and Bill were devoted to each other and enjoyed traveling abroad, most especially to Asia. Their home became a showplace for treasures from their travels and included Faberge eggs, samurai robes from the 1700s, and rooms filled with antiques including a table that belonged to one of George Washington’s brothers.

Bill and Lou delighted in travel and sharing their adventures with students, faculty, and friends. When they were not traveling their home was always open, and Lou especially delighted in entertaining and was known to all as an excellent hostess and cook.

Lou and Bill were also generous with their time and served their state and community throughout their lives. Bill was President of the Georgia Consortium, Inc., and founding president of the Lowndes County Historical Society. In 1984, he was elected President of the Georgia Historical Society, the first non-Savannahian to hold that position in the history of the institution. Lou was active in the National Society of Colonial Dames and the Symphony Guild, as well as sharing Bill’s love of history.

Bill died August 18, 2006, at Brookwood Medical Center in Birmingham, Alabama. Lou died on April 2, 2014, following a stroke. Before their passing they established the Lougenia and William Gabard Fund and through bequests in their wills and a substantial estate auction held following Lou’s death made an additional gift to the fund.