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Alumna and long-time benefactor Edna Truitt Noiles '44 receives the Elon Medallion

The 1944 Elon graduate made significant contributions toward the creation of the Truitt Center for Religious and Spiritual Life and the launch of The Elon Academy. 

Edna Truitt Noiles '44 was presented with the Elon Medallion at her home in Connecticut in July. She is pictured here with President Leo M. Lambert and his wife Laurie.

Edna Truitt Noiles, whose philanthropic efforts led to the creation of the Vera Richardson Truitt Center for Religious and Spiritual Life and the launch of The Elon Academy, has been presented with the Elon Medallion, the university's top honor. 

Noiles, a 1944 graduate of Elon and grandparent of a member of Elon's Class of 2017, received the medallion during a special ceremony in July at her home in New Canaan, Conn. The honor was announced during a Sept. 15 celebration of the 10th anniversary of The Elon Academy, which has become a national model for college access and success programs. 

"Edna Truitt Noiles, for your record of loyal and meritorious service to your alma mater, Elon University, it is my pleasure and privilege to present you with the university's highest honor, the Elon Medallion," Lambert said when presenting the medallion to Noiles this summer.

A video recording of the president's presentation and comments by Noiles were featured during The Elon Academy celebration on Sept. 15. "She is one of the most extraordinary women you will ever meet, and she's a proud Elon alumna," Lambert said of Noiles during the celebration. "May we all be like Edna."


Noiles grew up just two miles from Elon's campus, and after receiving her degree in history and English from Elon in 1944, she served in the hospital corps of the U.S. Navy's Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service (WAVES) program. It was through her service to WAVES that she met her husband, Doug, with the pair marrying in 1945. Doug Noiles, who became a pioneer in the development of medical and orthopedic devices, passed away earlier this year. 

After earning a master's degree in counseling, Edna Noiles began a long and successful career as a marriage and family therapist. Pursuing an interest in spiritual matters, she completed a two-year program at the Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation in Washington, D.C. and for nearly two decades, she served as a spiritual guide. She described her work as "one Christian helping another Christian find bread for the journey."

Those experiences solidified her commitment to interfaith dialogue and understanding, and in 2003, Edna and Doug Noiles endowed the Vera Richardson Truitt Center for Religious and Spiritual Life in honor of her mother. Joining with Edna's five sisters, also Elon alumnae, the couple established the Ashton P. and Vera R. Truitt Scholarship Fund to honor their parents. 

"I want to thank Elon personally for opening up the world to me," Edna Noiles said after receiving the medallion. "Thank you Elon for being the vehicle through which I can open the world for others."

Beyond supporting the exploration of religious and spiritual matters, Edna and Doug Noiles believed that a quality education was a child's birthright, and that passion led them to become founding donors to The Elon Academy. The academy is a comprehensive program that encourages promising high school students with high financial need or no family history of attending college to earn a four-year degree and serve their communities. The couple provided vital start-up funding and ongoing support for the program, which has had an impact on the educational opportunities of nearly 250 Alamance County students since its creation. 

"Elon is forever indebted to Edna and Doug Noiles, whose generous investments have transformed the university and prepared students to bring light into dark corners of our world," the Elon Medallion citation says in honoring Noiles. 

Owen Covington,
9/13/2016 1:00 PM