Tue, Oct. 4, 2011 - [Men's Basketball]
Homecoming is always a special weekend for Loras College alums. It brings back memories and former Duhawks who have spread their wings by starting families and careers often enjoy the chance to show their loved ones their old stomping grounds.
Dr. Pat Lillis was able take similar trips down memory lane this year when he returned to campus with some family and friends for the formal naming ceremony of the arena floor in Loras' recently constructed Athletics and Wellness Center.
Lillis' generosity was a major part of the funding for the state-of-the-art and environmentally green facility - which houses offices, locker rooms, and the campus' fitness center – along with the home games for the volleyball and basketball teams on Lillis Court.
On Friday, September 23 Loras College held a ceremony and reception to celebrate the former basketball player and longtime donor to the college.
"I thought I would be back and see a small number of former teammates and classmates, spend some time with my family, and the turnout was tremendous," Lillis said last week.
Among those in attendance were a number of the current student-athletes who attended to thank Lillis, current faculty and staff - and most notably to Lillis – President Jim Collins and Monsignor James Barta – who Lillis noted have some leadership and communication similarities.
"They both connect so well with so many people," Lillis noted.
"And the classmates I saw – what a great thing. Some of them I saw five years ago when I was back (at Loras College). Seeing some of the others I haven't seen since graduation is also refreshing. It is hard to make friends like the people you meet at that period in your life, of that quality, as you get older."
Lillis' Loras College basketball career was one of regular success and big stat lines. Recruited heavily by both the University of Iowa and Creighton University, Lillis came to Loras College from Williamsburg, Iowa and quickly asserted himself on the basketball court. In 94 career games Lillis scored 1,291 points and pulled down 576 rebounds. He left third on the all-time scoring list and rebounding list. In 2002, he was elected to the Loras College Varsity Athletics Hall of Fame.
"I questioned the large school path during the recruiting process and coming from a smaller town, I wasn't sure how I would fit in," Lillis said.
Loras College won out and as he points out, "it turned out to be the best decision of my life".
"The academic structure and athletic experiences were great for my study habits and Loras set the tone for my development as a student. My life would have been very different had I not come to Loras," Lillis says.
He considered heading to Iowa for medical school after his junior year at Loras - and was accepted to the program- but wanted to come back for his final year of eligibility. He entered Iowa's program the following year and found a niche in dermatology that both interested and intrigued him. While there were only a "small number" of positions available in the industry, Lillis worked hard to pave his own way.
Before long, Dr. Lillis had moved into the developing liposuction industry in the mid 1980's. Citing Dr. Klein in California's research, Lillis says he was "in the right place at the right time" to craft a local anesthesia alternative to the standard liposuction surgical processes. Dr. Lillis' practice began training upwards of 25 doctors per day over a 15-year period. He traveled domestically and internationally to share the technique and speak on the subject.
For the past 32 years, Dr. Pat Lillis has been in Loveland, Colorado with his full-time practice.
He plans on working until "they won't let me anymore".
"I enjoy it too much," he declared.
Both Athletic Director Bob Quinn and Loras College President Jim Collins addressed those in attendance at the ceremony on Homecoming Friday.
"People like Pat Lillis are so crucial to what we do at Loras College," Athletic Director Bob Quinn said after the ceremony.
Quinn reminded the audience that Pat Lillis "learned in the classroom and on the basketball court. He made friendships that would last a lifetime and developed a sense of service that benefits us all."
"We are all blessed with Pat's service and generosity."
President Collins presented Lillis with the just the third Alumni Excellence Award in the college's history for "his outstanding accomplishments as both student and athlete at Loras, for his generosity to Loras College, for his service and dedication to educating children in Colorado, and for his extraordinary professional achievements in the dermatological field".
Collins spent time expressing his gratitude for Lillis' leadership, significant contributions to the college, and amplifying how the guest of honor continues to give back to the Denver, Colorado community.
The 2011-12 Loras College men's basketball team presented Lillis with a framed #34 jersey and the women's team also provided a gift basket for the former Duhawk star.
"It was a really special day," Lillis recalled, "really special."