Gillis brothers' gift adds name to BPC gymnasium

The Gillis name that is synonymous with the area's agricultural industry and public service landscape will soon adorn another honorable place with its addition to a Brewton-Parker College facility.

Longtime state Sen. Hugh M. Gillis and older brother and businessman Jim L. Gillis Jr. of Soperton have contributed a gift significant to the point that their names will be added to the gymnasium of Brewton-Parker's new Student Activities Center.

Dr. David Smith, president of Brewton-Parker, said the gym will be officially named during Centennial Celebration activities the week of April 28.

"Brewton-Parker College is our neighbor and as one of few truly Christian schools left in the state, it has a direct relationship to our community," Jim L. Gillis said. "We just felt the college could help more to someone close by that could help the young people of Treutlen County."

"Brewton-Parker is an outstanding college, and there was a definite need for an athletic complex," Hugh Gillis said. "I am sure the offices and other phases of the building are beneficial to the college. I hope it is going to be great for them."

Both men have served on the Brewton-Parker Board of Trustees, with Hugh's most recent term expiring in 1999 and Jim L.'s in 2002.

The brothers have carried on business and public-service legacies left by their grandfather, Neal Gillis and father, Jim L. Gillis Sr.

Neal Gillis founded Soperton Naval Stores in the late 1800s, a turpentine business later run by Jim L. Jr. that evolved into Gillis AG and Timber.

Neal Gillis was the state senator for Emanuel County at the time Treutlen County was founded in 1917. Jim L. Gillis Sr. was in the state house representing Montgomery County at the time and later moved into the senate, and Interstate 16 was named in his honor for his longtime directorship of the Georgia Highway Department.

Hugh Gillis' time in the Georgia General Assembly is unmatched, as he is the longest-serving legislator in the United States. He began in the state house in 1941 and joined the senate in 1953, where he has served continuously since 1962.

Jim L. Gillis Jr. also served in the state senate, from 1945-46, and spent 40 years as a Treutlen County commissioner ending in 2001.

Jim L. Jr. is the chairman of the board for the Georgia Forestry Commission, on which he has served since 1971. He also has served as president of the American Turpentine Farmers Association.

Jim L. Gillis Jr. is chairman of the board of the Bank of Soperton and is past president of the Georgia Bankers Association and was president of the State Association of County Commissioners. Hugh Gillis also is a stockholder in the Bank of Soperton.

"We definitely like to do things to help promote education to our area and our young people, especially with a college to where you can stay home and be close," Hugh Gillis said.