Five alumni honored for life service and achievements

These outstanding alumni were honored by the Elon Alumni Association on Oct. 26 during Homecoming celebrations.

They embody all that Elon represents, from their service to the community to their commitment of bettering the world. The Elon Alumni Association honored five university alumni at an Oct. 26 awards dinner that coincided with 2007 Homecoming. This year’s winners include:

From left: Kelli E. Palmer, John Galloway Truitt Jr., Charles Ashton Newhall, George J. Kilroy, and the Rev. Dr. William J. Andes.

George J. Kilroy (Distinguished Alumnus of the Year Award)

George Kilroy graduated from Elon in 1973 with a degree in business administration after pausing his studies in 1969 to serve in the U.S. Army. A talented student, Kilroy, who returned from his military service as a first lieutenant, received the Martha and Spencer Love School of Business Dudley Watson Outstanding Student Award. He soon joined PHH Arval, one of North America’s leading providers of outsourced commercial fleet management and leasing services, where he started as an account executive before climbing its management ladder into the top ranks of company leadership.

Kilroy today is president and chief executive officer of the company, with more than $4 billion of leased assets and 600,000 vehicles under management. He has played a role in PHH Arval’s service to numerous community organizations, including the Maryland Food Bank, United Way of Central Maryland, and Habitat for Humanity, for which he co-sponsored a house and volunteered with company employees. He also serves as a board member of the Greater Baltimore Committee, The Maryland Science Center, and the Franciscan Center.

The Towson, Md., resident has maintained close ties to Elon, serving as a member of the National Alumni Executive Board and giving to the school. His commitment to Elon, his profession and his community is eclipsed only by the love he has for his wife, Peggy, and his three children and grandchildren.

Kilroy praised the faculty and administrators who supported him during his studies with a wife and two young children at home following his military service. And for that, he said, he is forever grateful.

“Somebody once said, people will never remember what you said, and they won’t remember what you did, but they’ll always remember how you made them feel,” he said.

Charles Ashton Newhall (Young Alumnus of the Year Award)

Ashton Newhall received the Young Alumnus of the Year Award in recognition of his professional accomplishments in the financial world, his contributions to his community and his support of Elon University. Newhall earned his sociology degree in 1998 and today serves as founding general partner of Montagu Newhall Associates, an international venture capital organization. In that role, Newhall raised $450 million working with three venture capital partnerships and has traveled the globe to identify start-up businesses worthy of investment.

Newhall, of Owings Mills, Md., serves on the board of directors of Domain Associates, ForHealth Technologies, Inc., QuestMark Partners, Frazier Healthcare Ventures, and The Mid-Atlantic Venture Association Selection Committee. Dedicated to serving his community, Ashton has raised money for several charities, including World Vision, and served on the Baltimore Museum of Art Accessions Committee for African and Asian art.

The former Elon student government association president has been a loyal supporter of his alma mater since graduation, serving on the board of advisors of the Martha and Spencer Love School of Business, supporting the Phoenix athletics teams and making annual gifts to the university as a member of The Elon Society. Newhall and his wife Becky have two children, Sydney and Alexandra.

“Elon gave me the opportunity to learn and to grow and to hone the skills I still use today. There are so many people who helped along the way,” Newhall said in his remarks after receiving his award. “For this place, and the people who cared … I can only say thank you, because your work is paying off.

“And I hope that my actions, in some way, continue to serve as living proof of your effort.”

Kelli E. Palmer (Young Alumna of the Year Award)

Kelli Palmer received the Young Alumna of the Year Award in recognition of her contributions to higher education and her community. After graduating from Elon in 1998 with a degree in elementary education, Palmer later earned as master’s degree in counselor education from Wake Forest University and a doctorate in higher education administration from the University of Virginia. She serves today as assistant to the president of the University of Virginia.

In that position, Palmer coordinates the Virginia Voyages travel program, works as an internal specialist on diversity and equity issues, staffs administrative searches and drafts internal and external communication for the president. Palmer regularly attends education conferences and workshops, and shares her knowledge with students and colleagues through classroom visits and presentations at professional seminars on subjects such as understanding diversity and career networking.

Devoted to serving her community, Kelli participated in a Hurricane Katrina relief trip and served as a mentor for other young women of color through her affiliation as an undergraduate and a graduate member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. She also is a founding contributor to the African American Alumni Scholarship, which assists deserving African American students at Elon.

“I love Elon as I can only imagine everyone in this room does, either from personal experience or knowing someone else who has had the opportunity of joining this family,” Palmer said moments after receiving her award. “Elon had faith in me …I wasn’t the perfect person upon admission, but they had faith I would do something with the opportunity it gave me here.

“This is a great place. And if we have faith in this place, it will give that faith to other people.”

John Galloway Truitt, Jr. (Outstanding Service to Elon Award)

John Truitt graduated Elon in 1953 with a degree in philosophy and religion. He married his college sweetheart and fellow Elon cheerleader, Dolores Hagan Truitt, in 1954. Truitt later received a degree from Union Theological Seminary in New York City and served as pastor in churches in Burlington, N.C.; Brookside, N.J.; and Chesapeake, Va., before beginning a 26-year career as a chaplain in the United States Air Force in 1961.

Truitt received numerous awards during his military service, including the Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal, and the Air Force Commendation Medal with two oak leaf clusters. He and Dolores are members of the National Alumni Executive Board and serve as co-presidents of Elon’s Golden Alumni Association. The Truitts are also active in the Piedmont-Triad Alumni Chapter and played a key role in helping the university secure an Elon license plate, which is available to North Carolina alumni and friends.

The Truitts established the Truitt-Hagan Endowed Scholarship Fund at Elon to assist deserving student athletes. As members of Order of the Oak, Elon’s planned giving society, The Elon Society, and the Phoenix Club, John and Dolores are among Elon’s most loyal donors, and supported construction of Rhodes Stadium with a generous gift. John is a devoted husband and father to Melinda Leigh Truitt Reinheimer, a 1985 Elon alumna, and grandfather to Kristin and Christopher.

“I consider it a privilege to contribute time and resources to Elon,” Truitt said upon receiving his award. “Elon is not a school I attended; it is a family to which I belong.”

The Rev. Dr. William J. Andes (Service to Church and Society Award)

Bill Andes received the Service to Church and Society Award for his dedication to the United Church of Christ, Elon University and his community. A 1935 graduate of Elon, Andes entered seminary at Duke University later that year, graduating in 1940 before serving the United Church of Christ for the next four decades as pastor of churches in Ruffin, Winston-Salem and Elon, N.C.

The longtime Elon resident also served as an elementary school principal during a teacher shortage in the 1940s, volunteered his time to local ministerial associations throughout his career and is as a longtime member of the Elon Exchange Club. As pastor of Elon Community Church from 1954 to 1966, Andes oversaw the completion of the church’s first sanctuary, education building and parsonage and ministered to children at Elon Homes for Children and students at Elon College.

The entrance plaza of the church was named the William J. Andes and Lucile Stone Plaza in 2002 in honor of the longtime Elon supporter and his second wife, a university staff member whom he married in 1999, two years after the death of his first wife, Carey. The Rev. Dr. William J. Andes ’35 Endowed Scholarship at Elon University assists student leaders who reach out to new or isolated students to make them feel a part of the community.

Andes thanked university President Leo M. Lambert and University Chaplain Richard McBride before offering reflections on his service to the church and his memories of meeting Lucile after Carey’s death.

“It’s been a long and good journey as pastor in churches in three different states and here in this area,” Andes said. “We are enjoying life in our old age, right on down to the end.”