Jim Gillette was a native of Courtland, Virginia. He played at the University of Virginia in 1937, 1938 and 1940 where, as a walk-on freshman, he was given the nickname The “Courtland Courier”. Gillette also starred at first base for the Cavaliers and was co-captain of the team his senior year. He won all-state honors as a running and defensive back and handled the punting, kicking and kick return duties. As a senior, he was the first player to be selected in the NFL draft signing with the Green Bay Packers.
Prior to his retirement in 1948 at age 32, Gillette had played with the Los Angeles Rams, Boston Yanks, Washington Redskins, Detroit Lions, as well as the Green Bay Packers. One of his most memorable performances was the 1945 NFL Championship game when Gillette scored the Rams’ winning touchdown for a 15-14 victory over the Redskins. He was the league’s third leading rusher and was selected to the all-pro team in 1945. In 1948, Gillette averaged over six yards a career along with his duties on defense.
Gillette is deceased, but had two sons; James III and Walker. Walker went on to win All-American honors as an end for the University of Richmond Spiders and played seven years in the NFL. They remain the only father and son combination to be inducted into the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame.