Mention the name of Hildegarde Pilgram ’31 and few will be able to remember a time when she wasn’t serving Hood College in some way. From the first day she walked onto Hood’s campus until her death in 1995, Hil Pilgram was an enduring figure for the College.
It was her wish that the Pilgram name live on at Hood with the establishment of the Hildegarde Pilgram Endowed Chair in History. A student of history herself, Pilgram thought it fitting that her $1.2 million bequest to Hood establish a chair in history dedicated to the memory of her parents. In a 1989 letter to Hood she wrote, “I am so happy that I am able to repay in a small way all that Hood gave me.”
Dr. Robert Pilgram describes his sister’s devotion to Hood in this way: “The more you put into something, the more you get out of it. For Hil, working her way through school as a waitress, competing in sports and excelling in academics—she put a lot into Hood and she got a lot out of it.”
Pilgram stood out among her classmates; she was a champion track and field athlete and tennis player. Her abilities on the playing fields and in the classroom earned her the honor of White Blazer Girl for her class. Years later, Pilgram served several terms as a member of the Hood College Board of Trustees. Pilgram even chaired her 50th class reunion and led a record-breaking fund-raising drive.
Honors seemed to follow Pilgram wherever she went. In 1982, she received Hood’s Alumnae Achievement Award. In presenting the award, the late Anne Funk Maxwell ’54 said, “She has represented Hood with grace and skill in her community, her church and the wider world. We are proud and grateful to this fine woman for her many years of distinguished service to Hood College.”
Hil Pilgram’s final act of generosity to Hood has allowed the College to hire Dr. Emilie Amt, visiting professor, as the first Hildegarde Pilgram Professor of History.
Bruce Bigelow, vice-president for development and external relations, explains how important such gifts are to the future of the College: “Endowments in general are what give Hood the financial foundation for the future; they allow us to build our academic quality, provide support for our students and maintain our campus.”