A Mixer Makes a Match
Preston "Burt" Zillgitt '52 felt immediately at home at Occidental. "I came from a family that had not gone to college," says Preston, who majored in psychology and went on to a career as an insurance broker. "My most valuable experience at Oxy was my very first week on campus, when I reported to Wylie, before my classes even started. There was a certain atmosphere, a feeling that was very, very positive for me and got things in motion. It was a wonderful time to be at Occidental."
His wife, Bonnie (Rose) '54, an education major, concurs: "I had spent my high school years living in the country on a ranch, and Oxy prepared me for that next step into the world. I felt like I was totally prepared for whatever I might get into as an adult."
Preston and Bonnie, avid sailors who now live in Corona del Mar, were active in the Greek system at Occidental. Preston was president of Kappa Sigma the InterFraternity Council, and Bonnie was a member of Gamma Kappa Theta. She was also a cheerleader, and Preston was his class vice president. "I picked her out at a mixer," Preston recalls, and Bonnie "went along with the program." The couple married in 1954 and they have a son, Garick, and a daughter, Anne.
The Zillgitts have made many cash donations over the years to the College. Recently, when the couple was looking for a way to "mitigate the pain" of a large capital gain after selling a home, they immediately thought of donating to their alma mater. "It just seemed logical," Preston says. They contacted the College, which set up a trust for them.
At Oxy, "I was able to meet all sorts of new people and get acclimated to the adult world at my own pace," Bonnie says. Now, the Zillgitts want to help give the next generation of students that same chance.