Tom Kacich: How James Kilgore wound up with George Will's house
If a property transaction can be politically ironic, there was one in Urbana this year that sets the standard.
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In April, the University of Illinois Foundation sold a home at 602 E. Harding Drive to Teresa Barnes and James Kilgore for $119,500.
Barnes is a professor of southern African history and gender and women's studies at the UI. Kilgore is an author, a political activist and a teacher as well as a former member of the radical Symbionese Liberation Army group. He served time in prison for his role in a 1975 California bank robbery that resulted in a murder. His employment at the UI created a ruckus earlier this year.
The irony of the property transaction is that the modest home on a quiet Urbana street had been owned by Frederick and Louise Will, parents of conservative political columnist George F. Will.
Late last year, George Will sold the home to the UI Foundation for $10.
Will said Tuesday that he had no problem with the Foundation's decision.
"I didn't know about it until I got your email," said the Washington Post columnist and Fox News contributor. "But there's no reason why they should have told me. The university's just been great in this. I had only one objective, which was to do something for the university that I admire and my parents admired and my father devoted most of his life to, and that was accomplished."
Frederick Will had been a professor of philosophy at the UI from 1938-77. He died in 1998. His wife passed away in 2006.
"I know nothing about this fellow," George Will said of Kilgore, "except that he has bad political judgment. And then he's probably not the only one in Champaign County who has bad political judgment.
"I certainly don't think the university had any obligation to tell me who's buying my house. The university has been professional and splendid through this."
Thomas Farrell, president of the UI Foundation, said Tuesday that "after an open-market sale process, in February, a sole offer was received on the property from Mr. Kilgore and Ms. Barnes and accepted by UIF."
The proceeds of the sale, Farrell said, will support the UI College of Media and University High School, which George Will attended.