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Last modified: Friday, May 16, 2008

Jesse Cox: A lifetime of philanthropy

Like others of their generation, the Coxes were shaped by growing up during the Great Depression. Born on a homestead in Utah, Jesse Cox returned to his family's home state of Indiana when he was four, and his mother died a year later. While his father supported him and his two brothers and a sister by farming and building homes, Jesse worked from the age of six on family farms or businesses.

Jesse and Beulah Cox

Jesse and Beulah Cox

Print-Quality Photo

He and Beulah Chanley were high school sweethearts, but finances prevented them from marrying. She graduated from Indiana Central Business College, and he attended business college and Butler University part-time while working. He enrolled at Indiana University Bloomington in the fall of 1939, and he and Beulah were married the same year. He put himself through IU by working and starting a number of small businesses, including a transportation service and mimeograph business.

After graduation, he started the J.H. Cox Manufacturing Co., which supplied venetian blinds to retailers Sears & Roebuck, L.S. Ayres and William H. Block. Shortly afterward, Jesse and Beulah bought a small bankrupt company and started Aero Blind & Drapery Inc. At the time of its sale in 1982, Aero had 920 employees and annual sales of $30 million. Through other ventures, Jesse H. Cox Inc. and B.J. Realty Inc., the Coxes began farming nearly 1,500 acres in Boone, Hamilton and Putnam counties, and buying and managing commercial real estate rental property.

Beulah Cox passed away in 1999, shortly after their 60th wedding anniversary.

The Coxes earlier donated funds used to build and maintain the Jesse H. and Beulah Chanley Cox Pavilion, as part of the Arboretum developed on the site of the old Memorial Stadium at IU Bloomington. Both were named for the Coxes in 1997 by IU. He was a member of the Alpha Kappa Psi business fraternity and the IU Alumni Association. He and Beulah were inducted into the IU Presidents Circle by the IU Foundation.

Their generosity and community involvement extends far beyond IU. In 1999, the Coxes donated their home and the surrounding 125 acres to the Hamilton County Parks and Recreation Department in order to "preserve an oasis in a sea of housing." The property has been preserved as Coxhall Park and Gardens. He was a 50-year member of the Masonic Lodge and was named a Sagamore of the Wabash in 2002.

More on Jesse H. and Beulah Chanley Cox at