Memorial Service for Eleanor Margaret Beach Kilgour

Release date: 

January 8, 2014

SILS Faculty A memorial service will be held for long-time University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Information and Library Science (SILS) supporter Eleanor Margaret Beach Kilgour who passed away on November 25, 2013 at age 98.

Mrs. Kilgour is the widow of Dr. Frederick G. Kilgour, entrepreneur, librarian and inventor of the WorldCat database - used by millions around the world. He founded the Ohio College Library Center, later renamed OCLC Online Computer Library Center. After spending many years at OCLC, the couple moved to Chapel Hill, NC where Dr. Kilgour was appointed distinguished research professor at SILS.

“We are saddened by the news of Mrs. Kilgour’s passing,” said Dr. Gary Marchionini, dean and Cary C. Boshamer Distinguished Professor at SILS. “She was a generous, intelligent and gracious person who made a significant difference here at SILS. Our deepest condolences to her family.”  

Many of SILS faculty members have benefitted from the generosity of the Kilgours through special funding provided by the “Kilgour Faculty Development Fund” and the “Eleanor M. and Frederick G. Kilgour Research Grant Awards.” 

Mrs. Kilgour’s memorial service will be held in the Board Room at the Club Center of Carolina Meadows on January 15, 2014 at 11 a.m.

Following is the full obituary for Mrs. Kilgour.

Eleanor Kilgour Obituary

Eleanor Margaret Beach Kilgour was born in Bogota, New Jersey, on October 14, 1915, and died on November 25, 2013, after a brief illness, in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. She was 98 years old.
Eleanor grew up in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, attended a local community college in the heart of the depression, and then transferred to Mount Holyoke College, graduating in 1936. A lifelong lover of literature, she soon started working at the Houghton Mifflin publishing company in Boston and at the Harvard College library, where she met her husband, Frederick Gridley Kilgour.

During World War II, Eleanor worked at the Office of War Information in Washington, DC, and started a family that eventually grew to include four children. When Fred became the chief librarian at the Yale University School of Medicine, the family moved to the New Haven area, where Eleanor worked as a nursery-school teacher and at Head Start, after all of her own children had gone off to elementary school.

In 1967, the family moved to Columbus, Ohio, where Fred founded the Ohio College Library Center (later the Online Computer Library Center) and Eleanor worked as an editor at the Educational Broadcasting Review, among other publications. The two became avid birders, and frequently vacationed on Deer Isle in Maine, where they came to love sailing. With the spread of library computerization, Fred’s work came to involve extensive travel, which Eleanor, who often accompanied him, enjoyed immensely.

The Kilgours moved from Ohio to Carolina Meadows in 1990, and continued to pursue their interest in birding; the feeders in the back yard of their villa drew swarms of grateful birds, which were diligently counted yearly. Eleanor kept up her literary interests and friendships, editing and contributing poetry to the Carolina Meadows publication Meadowscripts. She also maintained an avid interest in politics, both local and national.

In her later years, which she spent in the Carolina Meadows Health Center, an unfailingly gracious and sweet demeanor, and the sense of humor that never deserted her, won the hearts of many of those who cared for her. She is survived by her daughters Vajra Alison Kilgour and Meredith Kilgour Perdiew; two grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren. She will be much missed.

A memorial service will be held on January 15, 2014, at 11 AM, in the Board Room at the Club Center of Carolina Meadows.

The family would like to express their profound gratitude to the staff of Carolina Meadows for the remarkable skill and warm affection with which they cared for Eleanor, and would like to request that donations in memory of Eleanor Kilgour be made to two staff funds at Carolina Meadows: checks can be made out to Carolina Meadows, Inc., with “Employee Appreciation Fund” or “Scholarship Fund” in the memo line, and sent to Carolina Meadows at 100 Carolina Meadows, Chapel Hill, NC 27517; Attn: Business Office.