Elta Turner Cooke
Published in the 2015 Homecoming program.
Elta Turner Cooke ’52 is recipient of the 2015 Alumnus of the Year award, the highest alumni award presented by the university.
Her strong commitment and dedication to Millikin are evidenced by her many years of service and generous financial support. Now an emeritus trustee, her service to Millikin has included three consecutive terms as a member of the board of trustees, from July 2005 through June 2015. As a board member, she served on the facilities committee and the alumni and external development committee. She also has advocated for Millikin to prospective students as an alumni representative in both Illinois and Florida.
A generous friend of Millikin through several capital campaigns, Cooke has also provided decades of faithful support to The Millikin Fund for Student Scholarships. As a member of Millikin’s Patrons Society and the Big Blue Club, Cooke enthusiastically supports the university’s fine arts and athletics programs. She was one of the lead donors for the Frank M. Lindsay Field turf renovations and additions, a project within the “Transform MU” capital campaign. When improvements were completed last year at the field, Cooke and fellow trustee Gary Workman ’64 were presented with commemorative footballs as tokens of the university’s appreciation for their leadership roles in the field renovation project. She has also been a supporter of the Excellence in Entrepreneurship Award and the new University Commons building project.
This loyal champion of all things Millikin has also advocated among her peers to encourage support of Millikin. She is a member of the Investors Society, an organization for those who have included the university in their estate planning, and has endowed two scholarships at Millikin. The Elta T. Cooke Percussion Scholarship supports outstanding MU percussionists, and the Elta Turner Cooke Scholarship supports students with demonstrated financial need, with strong preference given to female students enrolled in the Tabor School of Business. Cooke is also a member of the Millikin Associates, a citizens’ group that serves as an important link between the university and the area community.
As a Millikin student, Cooke studied business and accounting and was a member of Zeta Tau Alpha sorority. Her late husband, Darrell Simms Ozier ’52, was a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity, and the two met as MU students.
When Ozier passed away unexpectedly in 1985, Cooke, who had been a partner with her husband in their business, became president of Ozier Investments in Champaign, Ill. The company was instrumental in the economic growth of Champaign, developing several subdivisions and apartment complexes, in addition to owning six laundromats/dry cleaners in the city. She served as president until her 1993 retirement, then returning to her farm in Clinton, Ill., to raise and train Arabian horses of the Blue Star bloodline. She currently divides her time between Clinton and her winter home in Port Orange, Fla.