Alumni Blog

Hermits Alumnus, Bill Gormley ’64 Receives Mendel Award

Posted November 11th, 2021

Surrounded by family, friends, colleagues, and his classmates from the Class of 1964, Prep alumnus and former New Jersey State Senator, William L. Gormley, Esq. ’64 proudly received the Gregor Mendel Award, the school’s highest honor.  Mr. Gormley celebrated the momentous occasion at the school’s annual dinner and award ceremony held at the Tropicana Hotel Resort & Casino.

Senator Bill Gormley poses with his classmates from St. Augustine Prep's Class of 1964

Senator Gormley (far right) takes a moment with Anthony Spina (center) and his Hermit Brothers from the Class of 1964

Forceful, passionate, and smart are the words used by many to describe this year’s Gregor Mendel Award Recipient. Representing the state’s 2nd Legislative District, Senator Gormley emerged as an influential and dominating figure in New Jersey government and a leader in the continued economic revitalization of the greater Atlantic City region. Following his graduation from St. Augustine Prep in 1964, he attended the University of Notre Dame receiving a B.A. in History in 1968. Returning to his Augustinian Roots that took hold at the Prep, he earned his J.D. from Villanova University in Pennsylvania. He also served in the United States Marine Corps and was honorably discharged in 1975 with the rank of captain.

The son of former Atlantic County Sheriff Gerard Gormley, Bill’s legendary political career began with his election to the New Jersey General Assembly in 1977, a position he held until 1982. He then served as a member of the state Senate from 1982 to 2007, a length of tenure unmatched in Atlantic County since state Sen. Frank S. Farley’s 31-year-run that concluded in 1972. In the early 1980s, Senator Gormley is remembered as being the most vocal member of a small group of Republican lawmakers who aligned with Democrats to pass legislation that eliminated the practice of awarding favorable ballot positions to candidates endorsed by county political organizations. Later he was credited with writing legislation that secured state funding for crucial development projects in the Atlantic City region including the Atlantic City Corridor Project (now “Tanger Outlets – The Walk”), Boardwalk Hall, the Atlantic City Rail Terminal, the Atlantic City–Brigantine Connector, The Borgata, the Quarter at Tropicana Casino, “The Pier Shops at Caesars” (now “Playground Pier”), the Atlantic City Convention Center, and Atlantic City International Airport.

Not surprisingly, the force, strength, and intelligence that became the Senator’s signature translated well outside the legislative arena. Only recently has his record of community service come to light as he has played a behind-the-scenes role in a number of philanthropic efforts and charitable projects in the Atlantic City region and beyond. Senator Gormley’s generosity to the community has helped benefit organizations such as the Daughters of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, Big Brothers and Big Sisters, the Sisters of Christian Charity, and his local alma maters, Our Lady Star of the Sea and, of course, St. Augustine Prep. He has also helped lead fundraising efforts to build a facility for the Milton and Betty Katz Jewish Community Center in Margate, spearheaded the recruitment of speakers for a lecture series at the William J. Hughes Center for Public Policy at Stockton University and, along with his wife Virginia, founded the Atlantic City Friends of Music to raise money to support music and arts programs in Atlantic City schools. Finally, representing one of his most life-changing and influential community efforts, Senator Gormley has secured a partnership between Apple Inc. and the STEAM Camp at the Boys and Girls Club of Atlantic City.

A proud Hermits Alumnus, Senator Gormley has credited the values instilled at St. Augustine as the impetus to his remarkable political career and subsequent philanthropic efforts. He has undoubtedly left an indelible mark on New Jersey as a politician; however, his current efforts in the community have provided hope and opportunity to countless underprivileged youth in the region. The legend of Bill Gormley built upon relentless determination and guile now grows a new hero of the community as a philanthropic leader with a generous heart.  To the Prep, an institution he holds so close to his heart, his character and values now serve as an example for the current group of Hermits who look up to those who came before them.

Bill Gormley is currently a partner in the law firm of DLA Piper. He resides in Margate City, New Jersey with his wife, Virginia. Proudly joining him in celebrating his appointment as the 2021 Gregor Mendel Award Recipient was his son Sean and wife, Jamie along with their children Lexi and Sean; his son Ryan and grandson Max; and two other grandchildren Annabel and Jack.

Gregor Mendel Award Tribute Video

The video tribute to Senator Gormley included appearances from former New Jersey Attorney General John Farmer, Jr., former U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson, and Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Chairman Kevin O’Toole, a former State Senate colleague.

Gregor Mendel Award Dinner Program Booklet