Honors Ceremony Introduction (Youtube)
Thomas Louis Lillibridge was born November 13, 1945 to Lowell Louis and Doris Lillibridge in Burke, SD. While attending the Burke School System Tom was chosen as the Boys State representative by the American Legion. He also lettered in football, basketball, and track all four years. After graduating in 1963 he attended Sioux Falls College, The University of the Seven Seas, and The University of South Dakota before graduating with a B.S. degree in Business Administration from Sioux Falls College in 1967. Postgraduate education includes graduation from the Iowa State Agricultural School of Banking and the University Of Wisconsin Graduate School Of Banking. The University of the Seven Seas experience was a 108-day semester on a ship, traveling around the world, with stops in fourteen countries.
Following graduation Tom returned to Burke and went into the banking business with his father and brother, John. In 1972, he became the manager of the Bonesteel Branch where he served until 1977. At that time Tom moved back to the home office in Burke. He was elected President of the First Fidelity Bank in 1982 and held that office until January of 2001 when he was elected Co-Chairman, a position that he continues to hold today.
In 1974, Tom was united in marriage to Dr. Cynthia J. Thoene. Cindy and Tom have lived in Bonesteel since that time. They have traveled extensively around the world including seventeen hunting safaris in various African Countries, and additionally safaris in Australia, New Zealand, New Caledonia, Spain, and Argentina, along with hunting trips in several Canadian Provinces and many states in the U.S. Having earned the Safari Club International’s Crowning achievement Award Places Tom among the elite big game hunters in the world. Hunts are booked this year for Canada, Scotland, England, Sweden and next year two hunting trips to Mexico.
While in Bonesteel Tom has served as the Mayor of the City, President of the Commercial Club, and President of the Bonesteel Area Development Corporation where he continues to serve as a board member. He was also the Treasurer of the Gregory County Pumped Storage Site Water Corporation.
Tom currently serves as the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the University of Sioux Falls. He is the current Chairman of the National Music Museum Board at USD and a past President of the South Dakota Heritage Fund Board. He is currently serving on the University of South Dakota Foundation Board and both he and Cindy are on the Onward Campaign Committee. Tom is also currently a member of the board of the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Foundation and a former board member of the South Dakota Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Preserve South Dakota, and the Great Lakes of South Dakota Association.
While serving on the Board of Directors of the South Dakota Heritage Fund, Tom was instrumental in leading the efforts of the fund to raise $2.5 million to fund outreach projects by the South Dakota State Historical Society, including the establishment of the South Dakota Historical Society Press, the development of traveling exhibits and suitcase education kits for classrooms, and upgrading the accessibility of the resources of the State Archives. The South Dakota Heritage Fund established an endowment fund to provide future income to continue the legacy of enriching the programs of the South Dakota State Historical Society. Tom and his wife, Cindy, have contributed generously to the annual and capital giving programs of the Fund.
Tom’s family legacy and leadership run deep with the University of Sioux Falls. His grandfather’s sister, Eva Lillibridge, graduated from the then Sioux Falls University in 1893, just ten years after the institution was founded. This began the Lillibridge family legacy that continued with Tom’s father Louis’ (or L.L.’s) leadership by serving on the college’s Board of Trustees. He and his brother John just completed 45 years of combined service on the Board of Trustees and the USF Foundation Board. Tom co-chaired “The Greatest Gift Campaign” which raised over $31,000,000 for USF making it the largest capital campaign in University history. Tom served as the Chairman of the USF Foundation Board from 2008-2011 both giving and encouraging others to support student scholarship endowments.
Tom’s influence and investment at the University of Sioux Falls and in the state of South Dakota took a giant leap forward when he and his wife, Cindy, established the Tom and Cindy Lillibridge Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership and Innovation (CELI). Tom understands that two thirds of the University of Sioux Falls student body are South Dakota residents and that most of those students come from rural communities outside of Sioux Falls and Rapid City. Out of his care and love for both his alma mater and his home state, Tom believes that giving students the opportunity for their “American Dream” will not only pay dividends for the successful graduate ,but will provide jobs for fellow South Dakotans as the graduates from the Lillibridge CELI start their own businesses and organizations in their home state. Tom knows that his investment is a long-term strategy that he will not fully realize during his lifetime. It is that kind of forward thinking and vision that makes Tom such a great leader and influencer of other people.
The USD School of Business honored Tom and Cindy, along with his brother and sister-in-law, John and Linda, as South Dakotans of the year. They were all honored as South Dakota Philanthropists of the year on National Philanthropy Day in 2001 and received the Inman Award from the University of South Dakota Foundation in 2011. In the year 2000, the University of Sioux Falls honored the Lillibridge Family with the Perisho Award. The South Dakota State Historical Society presented its highest recognition, the Robinson Awarded to Tom in 2005.
In addition to banking, Tom continues to enjoy hunting, fishing, golf, and travel and is currently involved in ranching operations raising Registered Angus cattle. One of the accomplishments he is most proud of is establishing the Tom and Cindy Lillibridge Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership and Innovation at the University Of Sioux Falls School Of Business.