Endowed gift in memory of alum Dr. Eugene Borchart commemorates his generosity

Dr. Eugene Borchart and daughter Kate (Kathleen) Wallace

A lifelong academic who was passionate about science and helping others, Dr. Eugene Kent Borchart graduated from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign with a degree in chemistry and went on to medical school and a long successful career as a doctor.

His daughter, Kate (Kathleen) Yvonne Wallace, said her father excelled in engineering and design. But in school, he really connected with chemistry.

“He found his passion… He fell in love with chemistry from the beginning, and it eventually led him to the path of becoming a doctor,” said Wallace, who recently established an endowed fund in memory of her father.

The Dr. Eugene Kent Borchart Memorial Award in Chemistry Fund recognizes outstanding graduating seniors in chemistry.

Wallace shared many reasons why this gift is a befitting way to memorialize Dr. Borchart, but mostly because it rewards Illinois chemistry majors like her father whose generosity shaped his legacy.

Dr. Borchart took great pride in the University of Illinois, in his chemistry degree and the people he met, Wallace said, and some of his best friends were fellow Illinois alumni.

Also, she said her philanthropic father believed in the value of an excellent education. His passion for the human condition and benevolent spirit led him to give without calling attention to himself, she said, and he shared his wealth in addition to his time, knowledge, and gentle heart.

“He was a very generous man,” Wallace said. “I wish that he was alive so he might enjoy the honor of attending the award ceremony. To see a student honored in his name would have given him great joy.”

Dr. Borchart was born in 1932 in Des Plaines, Illinois, attended Maine East High School, and graduated from Illinois in 1955 with a degree in chemistry, and received his degree in medicine from the University of Illinois Chicago in 1959. A devoted physician, Dr. Borchart practiced radiology for more than five decades at Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, Illinois. He retired in 1998 to spend more time with his family but continued his journey as a lifelong learner by attending weekly lectures in science, learning to write poetry, and pursuing his interests in music and art.

Dr. Borchart was challenged but not impeded by a dyslexia diagnosis that he was not aware of until later in his life. As a student at Illinois, he felt encouraged and supported, especially by one chemistry professor who really believed in him, Wallace said.

“So, he felt this real connection to the U. of I. and the opportunities he had there,” she said. “He felt like the U. of I. uplifted him, and he wanted to carry it forward and uplift others.”

That’s why Wallace knows her father would be so pleased with the Eugene Kent Borchart Memorial Award in Chemistry Fund. Supporting students at Illinois creates a domino effect, she said, by helping a student attend a stellar institution that will change that person’s life and other lives through that student.

“It will reward and recognize students in perpetuity,” she said.

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