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Margaret Garrison
Kelley School of Business

Last modified: Monday, July 7, 2003

IU remembers E.W. Kelley, generous philanthropist and alumnus

Indiana University is remembering Hoosier philanthropist and business leader E.W. "Ed" Kelley, whose generosity and service to the university will create a lasting legacy.

Kelley, founder and managing general partner of Kelley & Partners Ltd. and chairman of the Steak n Shake Co., passed away Friday (July 4) at the age of 86.

"Everyone associated with Indiana University is familiar with a statement that Ed Kelley's lifelong mentor frequently made. Herman Wells was fond of saying that IU's alumni are among its greatest treasures because they have a sense of the past and a vision for the future," said Gerald Bepko, IU interim president. "Ed Kelley's life and his relationship with the university exemplify that sentiment in the best ways possible.

"Generations of students who learn or gather in the buildings he supported, in the scholarship programs he endowed, and in the Kelley School of Business that bears his name, will be part of the enduring legacy he has left us. We all remember him with fondness and gratitude."

In the fall of 1997, Kelley and his family gave $23 million to IU to create a business scholarship program in its School of Business. In response, the university named the school in honor of Kelley.

The Sharpsville, Ind., native also provided financial support for several student scholarships and three buildings at IU Kokomo -- the Kelley Student Center, the Kelley House and the campus library. In 1969, he also established the Business School's first fully funded chair, the E.W. Kelley Chair in Marketing/Accounting, at IU Bloomington. He was a leader in giving to the Virgil T. DeVault Alumni Center, the Mellencamp Pavilion, the Alva Prickett Chair in Accounting and the IU School of Music -- all on the Bloomington campus.

Dan Dalton, dean of the Kelley School of Business, said, "Indiana University and the Kelley School of Business have never had a better friend. All of us in the Kelley School of Business join his family in their loss but also celebrate the life of a great man. It is a great privilege for Indiana University and the School of Business that Mr. Kelley's name and that of his family will forever be associated with the Kelley School of Business."

"Ed Kelley was a tremendous supporter of Indiana University Kokomo," added IU Kokomo Chancellor Ruth Person. "His contributions included helping to establish the Kelley Student Center, the campus library, the E.W. Kelley Scholarship Fund and the Kelley House. He was also personally supportive of me in my role as Chancellor of IU Kokomo. Ed will be greatly missed by the campus, the community and the entire Indiana University system."

The Kelley School of Business today has about 170 full-time faculty members and 5,200 students at the Bloomington and Indianapolis campuses. Its Kelley Scholars Program has provided full four-year scholarships to 60 outstanding business students since the program began in 1998.

Throughout his life, Kelley had a close association with IU dating back to the mid-1930s, when he was president of the School of Business student body, president of the student YMCA, chair of the IU Sing, founder of the IU Accounting Club and a member of several student and academic fraternities. He earned a bachelor of science degree in business administration from IU in 1939.

As a student, Kelley had several mentors, including University Chancellor Herman B Wells. "I was lucky in that I had a number of people at IU who promoted me to big Eastern corporations, and that's how I got chances to prove myself," Kelley said in 1997, adding that he wanted "to give back to society what society helped me get. I've done that by choosing to support a few special things, and Indiana University is obviously one of them."

Kelley also offered volunteer leadership and service to IU, including serving as a longtime member of the IU Foundation Board of Directors, the IU Kokomo Advisory Board and the IU School of Business Dean's Advisory Council. He was elected to the Kelley School's Academy of Alumni Fellows and received the Distinguished Alumni Service Award and an honorary degree from the university.

"Ed Kelley is one of the great names in the history of Indiana University," said IU Foundation President Curt Simic. "From his distinguished career in the food industry, to his remarkable community and philanthropic achievements, to his service on the IU Foundation Board of Directors, his devotion to the Kelley School of Business, and the creation of the Kelley Scholars within the school, Ed Kelley has been a beacon of vision, service, kindness and good will, and an inspiration to countless individuals in all walks of life."

His wife, Wilma, received both her undergraduate and graduate degrees from IU and also has been a strong supporter and an alumni leader. Their three children are all IU alumni.