WEIR COOK, CLASS OF 1916
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.
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
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: