Thomas Gilmore, a former Gonzaga University professor and ordained Buddhist lama, died Tuesday of cancer. He was 72.
Memorial Mass will be at St. Aloysius Church on Monday at 10 a.m.
Gilmore, a poet and author who jokingly called himself an “Irish Tibetan lama,” taught philosophy at GU from 1962 until 1986.
He led peace marches during the 1960s and was named the university’s distinguished teacher in 1966. Gilmore earned the award again in 1967, with other faculty praising the “outstanding substance and popularity” of his classes.
A Roman Catholic who attended seminary in the 1940s, Gilmore said in a 1982 interview that he first studied Buddhism during the 1950s. He later introduced Eastern philosophy into Gonzaga’s curriculum and was ordained as a Tantric lama in Seattle in 1976.
Gilmore authored a textbook on Buddhism and hosted a meditation house that attracted Gonzaga students, as well as priests and nuns.
Born in Birmingham, Ala., in 1924, Gilmore sold cars in Chicago after his seminary studies in Layfayette, La. He earned a bachelor’s degree from St. Ambrose University in 1950 and a masters degree from Mexico City College in 1952.
After graduation, he taught at Christian Brothers College in St. Louis and Rockhurst College in Kansas City. From 1956 until 1962, he was a professor of philosophy and history at Mexico City College (later renamed the University of the Americas) and directed a high school academy in Mexico City.
During his tenure at Gonzaga, he rose chairman of the philosophy department.
After retirement, Gilmore published a book of poetry and exhibited his paintings in Hawaii. He returned to the Spokane area last year, after extensive travels and living for a time in Mississippi.
He is survived by his former wife, Margaret Ann Tallman of Coeur d’Alene; four daughters, Gwen Maura Grant of Seattle, Margaret Bride Riddick of Cheney, Kathryn Ann Price of Coeur d’Alene and Vivian Lynn Lyden of Hayden Lake, Idaho; a son, Sean Gilmore of Meadville, Penn.; a sister, Mary Frances Heffron of Diamond Head, Miss.; and eight grandchildren.
Memorial contributions may be sent to Hospice of Spokane and North Idaho.
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