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Northwest Airlines co-chairman and wife pledge $5 million to Duke

January 10, 1997

DURHAM, N.C. (AP) _ Northwest Airlines Inc. co-chairman Gary Wilson and his wife will give $5 million to Duke University to help build a new recreational fitness facility on campus.

The gift from Wilson and wife Barbera Thornhill is the largest individual donation for an athletic purpose in school history, university president Nan Keohane announced Friday.

The money pledged will be used for a 99,000 square-foot facility on Duke’s West Campus. The building will include three gymnasiums, three multipurpose rooms, a weight and training area, indoor jogging track and office and locker room space.

Work will begin on the $16.5 million project in the spring with an opening slated for 1999.

Wilson is a 1962 Duke graduate who played on the school’s 1961 Cotton Bowl-champion football squad. He is on the university’s trustee board.

He has been co-chairman at Northwest since 1990. He held previous positions as executive vice president and chief financial officer of The Walt Disney Co. and similar posts at Marriott Corp.