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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University July 11, 2005 | Vol. 34 No. 39
Obituary: Sherry Gill, 66, Director of Special Events

Sherry B. Gill, longtime director of the university's Office of Special Events, died June 27 at her Towson home, apparently of natural causes. She was 66.

Gill came to Johns Hopkins in 1966 as an assistant in Special Events and became director in 1970, a position she held until her retirement in 1994.

During her 28 years at Homewood, she organized and presented many of the university's most prestigious lecture series, bringing to the campus and the city free speeches by such figures as U.N. Secretary General Kurt Waldheim, Russian President Boris Yeltsin and South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, as well as notable men and women from the worlds of literature and journalism.

She also originated the Wednesday Noon Series, a long-running and eclectic program of free lunch-hour lectures, concerts, films, workshops and performances that drew audiences of faculty, staff, students and community members.

And every May, she focused her energies on the university's largest event — commencement, a highly complex and demanding production requiring the showmanship of a Hollywood producer and the attention to detail of a brain surgeon.

"She was up to the task, no doubt about it," said Dennis O'Shea, executive director of the Office of Communications and Public Affairs, who worked with Gill on publicizing events. "Thanks to Sherry, tens of thousands of Johns Hopkins students got a sendoff into the real world with appropriate pomp and circumstance."

In the course of running commencement for all those years, she hosted numerous notable speakers including composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein, Federal Reserve Board chairman Paul Volcker, actor John Houseman, sportscaster Howard Cosell, U.N. Secretary General Javier Perez de Cuellar, New York Gov. Mario Cuomo and Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney.

"She was the Hopkins impresario," Ross Jones, vice president and secretary emeritus, told The Baltimore Sun. "It was a great Hopkins era, and she loved every minute of it."

Gill is survived by two daughters, six grandchildren and her mother. Robert Gill, her husband of 26 years, died in 2001.


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