Neil Gilligan, Jr.

July 20, 1928July 30, 2013
Play Tribute Movie

Neil James Gilligan, Jr. passed from this life on July 30, 2013, in Austin. Neil was born in San Antonio, Texas on July 20, 1928. He graduated Uvalde High School, class of ’45, before enlisting in the U.S. Army, serving as a surveyor in the Army Corps of Engineers from 1945-48. After his enlistment was up, Neil graduated Cum Laude from Southwest Texas Junior College and enrolled in St. Mary’s School of Law before being called back to active duty.

After his service, he married Lillie Lee Blakeney on August 3, 1952, a marriage that prospered and endured for almost 61 years. Neil is survived by his wife Lillie Gilligan, his brother, John Bruce Gilligan and wife Dorothy, of Taylor, his daughter Laura Gilligan Banks and husband Richard of Galveston, four grandchildren: James Clay and wife, Dawn, of Dothan, Alabama, Tiffany Clay, of Pflugerville, Travis Banks, of San Antonio, and Erin Bennett, of Corpus Christi, two great-grandchildren, Kama and Cheyenne Clay, of Dothan, along with nieces, nephews, and many cousins. Neil was preceded in death by a daughter, Terry Ann Gilligan, and son, Neil James “Skipper” Gilligan, III.

Neil enjoyed a lengthy and distinguished career as a radio and television broadcaster. After getting his start at KVOZ in Laredo, Texas, he went on to own and operate KSWA in Graham, and then KSOX in Raymondville. Later, he built and managed television station KVTV in Laredo. By and by, Neil built a second career as facility manager for the Department of Radio/Television/Film for the University of Texas at Austin.

But Neil’s true calling was his volunteer work with Lions International and with the Shrine. He held many posts and garnered honors too numerous to list; he was known around the Shrine Circus and Coats for Kids as “Honker” the clown, an alter ego through which he charmed generations of young and old alike with his twisted balloon animals, big shoes and a face painted clown white. Neil was a poet, an able correspondent, an Eagle Scout and an Irishman, and he’d love to discuss matters over a draught. Whether as Honker or Neil, he was loved by many for his words and his deeds. He will be missed by all who knew him.

Memorial contributions may be made in his honor to the Texas Lions Camp for Disabled Children, c/o Austin Downtown Founder’s Lions Club, PO Box 42181, Austin, TX 78704.


  • Visitation Friday, August 2, 2013
  • Masonic Graveside Services with Military Honors Saturday, August 3, 2013

Neil Gilligan, Jr.

have a memory or condolence to add?


receive updates when new memories are posted

Joel Fowler

August 27, 2013

Dear Lillie: Charlie Brown called me about Neil's passing. To me, he was indefatigable, so the news was sadly surprising.
Neil was a tremendous help to me as a colleague and as a friend--you are, too--although miles and time separated us over the years. 'Will not ever forget his intro of me to Ann Richards and his sincere and easy Texan courtesy and friendliness. it was a distinct pleasure to have known Neil. Bless you and the family. Joel Fowler

LaDell & Gene Freudenberg

August 8, 2013

Gene and I send our deepest sympathy to you Lil and your family during this difficult time. May God bless and keep you in his arms.
LaDell & Gene Freudenberg, Pflugerville Tx

Kara Arteaga

August 7, 2013

Neil brought smiles to so many people. The joy he shared crossed all ages. A wonderful man that will be dearly missed.
"He went away to a place where there's no tears, nor sorrow only laughter and smiles.
As he moves amongst the clouds, he will look down and smile upon you."
My thoughts and prayers are with Lillie and the entire family.

Cari Dittman

August 4, 2013

Although my heart is overwhelmed with so much sadness, my mind is very aware of what a full and happy life Neil lead. The stories that Lillie and Neil would share about their early romance, the bond between them throughout their marriage, their wonderful family and friends, “clowning around” together…we all wish for that sort of happiness and fulfillment in our lives. Neil was a kind and special man, so full of love and integrity. How grateful I am to have known him.

Neil was a true energizer bunny for so long, but I know it's now time for his body to rest. He will be greatly missed by all, but he will always have a place in my heart.

My thoughts and prayers are with you Lillie.

Linda Christofilis

August 2, 2013

I met Neal 30 years ago when working with his dear wife, Lillie. Such a warm, generous, and delightful man, always a smile on his face and lilt in his voice, always a kind word, a joke or compliment. Neal will be deeply missed by all who found joy in their relationship with him and his family. Blessings and peace to them, especially his devoted Lillie.
My deepest sympathy and respect,

Katie Guymon

August 2, 2013

A great man..... he will be missed..... Prayers and the Peace that passeth understanding to you Laura and Mrs. Gilligan.....

Sam Stimson

August 1, 2013

I had known Neil for 3 years, but he was always a friend and stopped by the recorders office frequently just to chat. I will miss him.

August 1, 2013

Lil and family,
With sincere sympathy, we remember Neil as a distinguished gentleman who always had a smile on his face and kindness in his heart. He was a man of integrity and honor. He will be greatly missed by friends and acquaintances. May God give you peace in your loss and comfort in your memories.
Dayland and Kay Parsons (Abilene, TX)

Joe New

July 31, 2013

You have our deepest sympathy. He is now beside God and no longer in pain. He was a truly dedicated clown and person and will be missed.

Bill Martin

July 31, 2013

Neil was loyal, dedicated and known for honesty and integrity
to all his many trusted friends and associates who were privileged
to know him. He will be missed.