Francis S. Gilligan of Boston, Provincetown, and Fisher Island, Fla. died peacefully on June 6, 2023 at his home in Florida. He was 85.
Born in Worcester on July 8, 1937 to George and Julia Kennedy Gilligan, he was a graduate of Worcester Classical High School and Worcester State College. He served in the U.S. Air Force Tactical Air Command in Nancy, France and Cambridge, England.
Frank was an early leader in the field of development and fundraising for cultural organizations. He began his career in New York City with an internship in fundraising at the American Red Cross. He joined Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in 1967 as director of the Lincoln Center Fund, which he led for nearly two decades.
Frank developed the leadership structure for the then newly formed Film Society and Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. In 1976, he secured funding to support the groundbreaking, Emmy Award-winning PBS series Live from Lincoln Center. Particularly notable were its novel technical solutions in presenting live performance of cultural programming on television. Frank’s work on the Lincoln Center Corporate Fund raised unrestricted funds for the Center’s constituent organizations.
In 1984, Frank founded the Development Corporation, providing assistance to the boards and leadership of not-for-profit cultural organizations, including the American Academy in Rome, the Peabody Essex Museum, Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, the Museum of Holography in New York, and the Friends of the Public Garden in Boston. Frank also raised money for the work of paleoanthropologist Richard Leakey.
Frank is survived by his husband Mario Russo of Provincetown and Boston and by his daughter Fernanda Gilligan Jess, son-in-law Adrian, and granddaughter Frances “Frankie” Jess, all of London, England. A sister, Jane DeFalco of Naples, Fla., also survives him.
A memorial service to celebrate Frank’s life will be held later this summer in Boston.