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"Stories of the Week"




June 30, 1893 - March 24, 1943


A portrait of Weir Cook, World War I hero and member of Psi Phi Deke's Class of 1916, is "the newest addition to the Hoosier Heritage Portrait Collection that adorns the south wall of Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels' office." The Feb. 12, 2007, announcement from the Governor notes that the state's chief executive "was joined by members of the Cook family and representatives from aviation and veterans organizations" as the move was announced.

"I'll look forward to telling visitors about this outstanding figure in Indiana history, one of the genuine pioneers of aviation and Indiana's first flying ace in World War I," said Daniels. "He was friends with people like Amelia Earhart, Charles Lindberg, Orville Wright and Eddie Rickenbacker, and he was every bit the legend that any of them was."

Harvey Weir Cook was born in Wilkinson, Indiana in 1892. He graduated from Anderson High School and attended college at both DePauw University and Washington & Jefferson University in Washington, Pennsylvania. In 1917, at age 23, he joined the United States Army Air Service and was a combat ace and captain during World War I. Weir Cook Postcard.jpg

Cook was a pioneer in bringing Indianapolis its first principal airport. Weir Cook Municipal Airport opened in Indianapolis in 1931. Construction cost $724,000, and the airport terminal building was completed for $125,000. The airport (pictured in vintage postcards above and below) was the home of two "world's first" technological advances.  In 1946, the world's first radar-equipped control tower for civilian flying was installed there.  And in 1958, the first automatic computer to be placed in operation by the Civil Aeronautics Administration began service at Weir Cook Municipal Airport -- which served as the airport's name until it became Indianapolis International Airport in 1976. 

Cook was a noted flying ace and captain during World War I, credited with downing seven enemy planes. He later returned to military service as lieutenant colonel in World War II and was killed, at age 50, while flying a Curtiss P-40 over New Zealand. A memorial in his honor remains on display at the Indianapolis International Airport.

His son, H. Weir Cook, Jr., was a Psi Phi Deke at DePauw, graduating in 1946.  Bill Kiger '33 pledged DKE at DePauw after a summer rush party in 1928.  Psi Phi hosted the party in Indianapolis, and Weir Cook showed up with an airplane.  "He took us up.  He did loops.  It was scary but amazingly fun.  I think every guy there ended up pledging DKE.  I certainly did," Kiger said in a 1989 letter in which he recounted several stories from his active chapter days.  Kiger, the father of DePauw graduate Gretchen Cryer, and the grandfather of actor Jon Cryer, died in September, 2004, at age 93.

In January 2006, the governor 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.

The portrait, by Edmund Brucker, who painted portraits of several Indiana governors, including Matt Welch, a Delta Kappa '34 Deke who served as Indiana governor from 1961 - 65, is on loan from the Indianapolis Airport Authority and Military Officers Association of Indiana. It joins other portraits of historically important Indiana residents in a rotating exhibit that is updated periodically. Prior to Governor Daniels' decision to create the portrait collection in January 2006, only images of former governors were displayed in the office.

Audio from the Governor's Office portrait unveiling is available here:



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