Western Courier

Professor emeritus killed in collision with Amtrak train


Nicholas Ebelhack

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Western Illinois University Professor Emeritus Gil Belles, 76, was killed Thursday morning when his vehicle was struck by an Amtrak train near Route 136.

Belles, who worked in university’s department of recreation, parks and tourism administration, had originally taught history at Western in 1968 before later chairing the department of African American studies and serving on the Council on Admission, Graduation and Academic Standards (CAGAS).

In a press release from the Office of University Relations, Western President Jack Thomas offered his condolences to Belle’s family in the wake of his sudden death.

“The Western Illinois University community mourns Gil’s tragic death,” said President Jack Thomas. “He was a wonderful man, and will be missed.”

The press release further reads that Belles was involved with the YMCA of McDonough County, Tri-States Public Radio, the Western Illinois Museum and several other community efforts. He was also featured in an episode of “Illinois Stories” in 2016 for his efforts to credit artists by adding signage to public art displays in Macomb.

Funeral arrangements are tentatively planned at Dodsworth-Piper-Wallen Funeral Home.

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1 Comment

One Response to “Professor emeritus killed in collision with Amtrak train”

  1. Chandler Pillsbury on May 26th, 2017 9:18 am

    Such tragic news. This man was one of a kind. I met Gil Sophomore year when I started going to the gym in the early morning before all my classes, and I learned that he used to be a professor in my department (RPTA). I volunteered at the annual homecoming 5k that he had a HUGE part in organizing. We said Hi to each other EVERY morning at the WIU rec center, he would often tease me about taking his favorite parking spot, and I always kept him up to date with how school was going and with the status of m y upcoming internship. Thoughts and prayers to all of his family, friends, WIU community and Macomb community.


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The independent student newspaper of Western Illinois University. Serving Macomb since 1905.
Professor emeritus killed in collision with Amtrak train