Ray Cole Among Iowa Character Award Honorees

The Robert D. and Billie Ray Center at Drake University will recognize 12 Iowa individuals and groups with awards for exceptional character. The 2019 Iowa Character Awards ceremony will be held Friday, July 26, at The Meadows Events and Conference Center in Altoona, Iowa.

The Ray Center annually honors Iowans who show the Six Pillars of Character Counts!: trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and good citizenship. Since 2005, the organization has recognized more than 100 Iowans for showing good character.

The Ray Center’s top award, the Robert D. Ray Pillar of Character, will be presented to Ray Cole.  He is president and chief operating officer of Citadel Communications. In this capacity, he was responsible for the oversight of Iowa television stations serving viewers in the Des Moines, Quad Cities and Sioux City markets until their sale in 2013.

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Citadel recently announced the sale of its remaining ABC stations in Lincoln, Neb., and Providence, R.I. When that deal closes later this year, it will mark the end of Ray’s 42-year association with the ABC Television Network.

A longtime supporter of The Robert D. and Billie Ray Center, Ray has consistently worked to back its Character Counts! mission. He enjoyed a long and close relationship with former Governor Ray. They worked together on a wide range of activities, including Easter Seals of Iowa’s annual Camp Sunnyside Raft Regatta. They were also fellow members of The Breakfast Club Ltd., which allowed them to see each other regularly at weekly meetings and social events. This friendship prompted Ray to be an early supporter of The Ray Center’s efforts to improve civility through character development and ethical leadership. He has been especially involved with the annual All-Star Evening fundraiser.

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Since 2011, Ray has leveraged his personal and professional connections to secure ESPN’s involvement with the meaningful participation of a high-profile ESPN personality and exclusive auction packages such as VIP experiences at the ESPYS, Good Morning America, Dancing with the Stars, American Idol and the Billboard Music Awards. Ray and his wife, Susan, served as honorary co-chairs of the All-Star Evening in 2014.


The group said: “Ray also demonstrates good character through his leadership in the broadcasting industry and many civic engagements. He currently serves on the Board of Governors of the ABC Television Network, and on the board and executive committee of the Broadcasters Foundation of America. Ray previously served on the boards of the National Association of Broadcasters and Television Bureau of Advertising. He was inducted into the Iowa Broadcasters Association’s Hall of Fame in 2015.”

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Awards will be issued in 10 additional categories:

Aaron Eilerts Community Service Award: Alicia Kamran, Norwalk

Citizen of Character: Lois Turnage, Pleasantville and Jordan George, Des Moines

Business/Organization of Character: The Job Foundation, Cedar Falls

Character Champion: Julie Kopecky, Dallas Center

Communities of Character: Pella

Educator of Character: Corwin (Corky) Stewart, Brooklyn

Partner of the Year: Iowa Bankers Association, Johnston

Pursuing Victory with Honor: Lynnville-Sully Football Program

School of Character: Lakewood Elementary, Norwalk

Student Team/Organization of Character: Joyology, Carlisle

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