INDIANAPOLIS (July 21, 2011) - Portraits of William A. "Bill" Cook and Ernest T. "Ernie" Pyle are the newest additions to the Hoosier Heritage Gallery that adorns the south wall of the Governor's Office.
"These men were two of Indiana's finest and are great examples of the worldwide influence and impact of our state," said Governor Mitch Daniels. "One was a groundbreaking reporter whose columns captured the bravery of the American soldier. The other was an innovator and philanthropist whose work saved and lengthened countless lives and whose generosity preserved the landscape of southern Indiana. Both are legendary Hoosiers and we're proud to call them our own."
Cook, who passed away in April, founded Cook Incorporated in 1963 with his wife Gayle joining him as its only employees. Under Cook's leadership, the company became a worldwide conglomerate and a leader in medical supply innovation and development. Currently, Cook Group Incorporated is comprised of 66 companies and has manufacturing plants in the United States, Australia, Denmark, and Ireland.
Bill Cook had a legendary commitment to community development and philanthropic activity. He was instrumental in the restoration and re-use of many historic buildings in Southern Indiana. He founded the Monroe County YMCA, which is now the largest YMCA in Indiana. Cook companies have provided significant financial support to universities, hospitals and physicians throughout the country to aid the advancement of education and medical research.
Cook was born in 1931 and grew up in Canton, Illinois. Attending high school in Canton, he lettered in varsity football, basketball, and track. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Northwestern University in 1953 where he majored in biology. After spending two years as an Army medic, Cook began his business career in 1955 with Martin Aircraft and three years later founded his first business, MPL Incorporated, in Chicago. He moved to Bloomington in 1963 to found Cook Incorporated.
Born in 1900 on a small farm near Dana, Indiana and educated at Indiana University, Ernie Pyle was one of America's most widely-read reporters and one of Indiana's greatest storytellers. Progressing from local reporter in LaPorte to national columnist in Washington, D.C., he became America's first aviation journalist and then a roving reporter for the Scripps news service.
Before the World War II, Ernie Pyle traveled the country for seven years and authored stories for his daily column. In 1940 he set off for Europe and quickly developed into America's most popular wartime writer. He covered America's involvement in the war from the frontlines in North Africa, Sicily, Italy and France. After his stint in the European theater, Pyle accepted an assignment in the Pacific. He was killed by sniper fire in April 1945 on the Japanese island of Ie Shima.
Featured in 400 daily newspapers, his columns celebrated the bravery and resoluteness of the American soldier. His vivid and accessible writing brought the realities of the war into countless homes. He was awarded a Pulitzer Prize in 1944.
The portrait of Cook, painted in 1998 by Keith Kline, is on loan from a private collection. It replaces the portrait of Colonel Eli Lilly.
The portrait of Pyle was painted by Dean Cornwell and is on loan from the Indiana University Campus Art Collection. It replaces the portrait of Wes Montgomery.
Photos of the portraits can be found here:
Bill Cook: http://www.in.gov/gov/images/photoofportrait.jpg
Ernie Pyle: http://www.in.gov/gov/files/Press/pyle_portrait.jpg
In January 2006, Governor Daniels designated the south wall of the Governor's Office as a place for portraits of historically important Hoosiers-a change in the longstanding tradition of hanging portraits solely of former governors. The portraits, which are loaned to the state, are part of a rotating exhibit that is updated periodically. In addition to Cook, portraits of Saint Mother Théodore Guérin and Cole Porter currently hang in the Governor's Office.
Information about portraits previously featured in the Hoosier Heritage Gallery can be found here: http://www.in.gov/gov/2560.htm