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Last modified: Tuesday, June 10, 2003

Five to receive IU's highest alumni award

EDITORS: For more information about Cream and Crimson Weekend activities, contact the IU Alumni Association at 812-855-4822 or go to its Web site at Photographs of the award winners will be available from the IU Alumni Association at

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Indiana University will honor five persons with its Distinguished Alumni Service Award at a recognition luncheon Sunday (June 15) in Alumni Hall of the Indiana Memorial Union. The honor is IU's highest award that can only be given to an alumna or alumnus.

The recipients are Clarence W. Boone Sr., of Gary, Ind.; Gayle Karch Cook, of Bloomington, Ind.; Alecia A. DeCoudreaux, of Indianapolis; Larry R. Ellis, of Atlanta; and Patricia R. Miller, of Fort Wayne, Ind.

The five DASA recipients will receive their awards during IU's Cream and Crimson Weekend in Bloomington. They were chosen for services and achievements in their fields of endeavor and significant contributions to community, state or nation. With the addition of these recipients, IU has honored 268 alumni since the award's inception in 1953.

Following are individual bios for each award recipient:

Clarence W. Boone Sr.

Boone earned his bachelor's degree in anatomy and physiology in 1953 and his M.D. degree in 1956, both from IU. After a long and distinguished career as a physician in northwest Indiana, he retired in 1999.

He served IU Northwest on its scholarship committee, two chancellor search committees and on the chancellor's advisory committee. In 1998, IU Northwest awarded him the Chancellor's Medallion, the highest honor bestowed by the campus.

Boone is a member of the board of directors of the IU Foundation, and he has served on the IU School of Medicine's Dean's Council. He is a co-founder and former president of the Neal-Marshall Alumni Club. From 1997 to 1998, he was chairman of the IU Alumni Association.

Boone's efforts extend into the Gary community as well. He served on the Gary Housing Authority board of directors, was a member of the State Department of Public Instruction committee on reorganization, and was involved with the Gary Community School Corp.'s dropout-prevention program. He has been honored as a Sagamore of the Wabash, and in 2000 he was inducted into the Gary Steel City Hall of Fame.

Gayle Karch Cook

From a humble beginning in their Bloomington apartment in 1963, Cook and her husband, Bill, ventured into the manufacture of medical devices. The success of this endeavor, now known as Cook Inc., has provided her with the opportunity to better the lives of thousands through the many philanthropic projects in which she has played a major role.

Cook has used her 1956 degree in fine arts from IU in her efforts to restore and preserve historic landmarks.

Her interest in the past has not detracted from her vision for the future. She and her husband have endowed chairs in the School of Education and the School of Medicine and supported the endowment of the Wells Scholars Program. She is a member of the IU Foundation board of directors.

IU has recognized her talents and service by awarding her the Herman B Wells Visionary Award and an honorary doctorate of humane letters. In 1983, the IU Alumni Association presented her with the Gertrude Rich Award in recognition of her service to the alumni program.

Alecia A. DeCoudreaux

DeCoudreaux, a 1978 graduate of the IU School of Law-Bloomington, is secretary and general counsel for Eli Lilly and Co.

In her service to IU, she has served as chairwoman of the IU School of Law-Bloomington board of visitors and as a member of the school's search committee for a dean. She is also a member of the IU Foundation board of directors.

For her efforts she has been inducted into the Academy of Law Alumni Fellows and has received IUPUI's Spirit of Philanthropy Award. She has also received the Indiana State Bar Association's Women in the Law award.

In the Indianapolis community, she has been a director of United Way and of Indianapolis Downtown Inc. She has been a member of the advisory board of the Women's Fund of Central Indiana and the Center for Urban Policy and the Environment.

In 1996, she was named one of the most influential women in Indianapolis, and in 1997 Girls Inc. of Indianapolis presented her with its Touchstone Award for inspiring young women with her commitment, determination and achievement.

Larry R. Ellis

Since beginning his military career in 1969, Ellis has risen to commanding general of the U.S. Army Forces Command. He is one of the highest-ranking officers in the U.S. Army.

A four-star general, he is responsible for homeland security of the United States and the well-being of more than 750,000 soldiers, civilians, retirees and their families. A highly decorated career officer, he has served his country for more than 32 years in assignments all over the world.

Since receiving a master's degree in 1975 from the IU School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation, he has used his education to help enrich the lives of those who serve under his command. He has served as a member of the Advanced Leadership Council, which recruits talented graduate students from historically black colleges. At the council's first official meeting, he delivered a message focusing on leadership, well-being and inclusivity that was considered to be the new group's defining moment.

He returned to the Bloomington campus in January to deliver the Marian Godeke Miller Lecture to the student body. His speech focused on leadership and healthy lifestyles.

Patricia R. Miller

Miller received a bachelor's degree in education in 1960 and began a career in teaching in Fort Wayne, Ind. But her initiative and drive led her in another direction. In 1982, she and a partner founded Vera Bradley Designs, which manufactures luggage, handbags and travel accessories.

As a result of the company's success, she has been able to lead efforts to provide resources for cancer research. The Vera Bradley Foundation for Breast Cancer Research has been a major supporter of cancer research at the IU School of Medicine. The foundation provided for the establishment of the Vera Bradley Chair in oncology.

She is a member of the IU Varsity Club and the IU Foundation board of directors, and is a participant in alumni activities in the Fort Wayne community.

In 1997, she was named both the Indiana Business Leader of the Year and the Indiana Chamber of Commerce Business Leader of the Year. The IU Alumni Club of Northeast Indiana recognized her this year as its distinguished alumna.