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Leon Bell '76 Among Honorees as Operation Life Marks 35th Anniversary

April 29, 2010

Leon Bell OL Apr2010.jpgApril 29, 2010, Greencastle, Ind. — "As officials from both Greencastle and DePauw continue to talk about ways to promote 'town-gown relations,' one organization in the community has been combining them seamlessly for three-and-a-half decades," begins an article in today's Banner-Graphic on Operation Life. The non-profit ambulance/paramedic service for Putnam County marked its 35th anniversary with a banquet Saturday night. (Banner-Graphic photo: Leon Bell '76, at right, receives an award from Operation Life executive director Kraig Kinney)

Leon H. Bell III is a 1976 DePauw University graduate and has been involved with Operation Life from its infancy.  He currently serves as director of paramedic services for Indiana University - Purdue University at Indianapolis (IUPUI) but still serves Operation Life one weekend every month and is the only original member of the organization who is still active.

"Thirty-five years ago, we struck the tones that set in motion a collaborative effort between community activists and university students," Bell said at Saturdays' dinner.Early Operation Life.jpg

Jared Jernagan writes, "Operation Life grew out of the DePauw Fire Company, which was founded in the late 1960s by a group of students interested in serving the community. As a movement began around the country toward emergency medical services, the volunteers made a move to purchase an ambulance for $14,000. But these DePauw students weren't just serving the campus community. They weren't even just serving Greencastle. If a call came in from anywhere in the county -- from Cataract to Russellville -- Operation Life was en route."

Today, fifty people work for Operation Life and 60 percent receive salaries. There are stations in Greencastle, Cloverdale and Bainbridge and, as the newspaper notes, its connection to DePauw remains strong.

A new award was presented Saturday. It is named in honor of Doug Crichlow, a 1971 DePauw graduate who was an original member of Operation Life team.  He ambulance.jpgpassed away in 1996.

Other honorees included DePauw seniors Matthew Nance and Megan Soultz, who received volunteer service awards.

Jernagan writes, "The night concluded with a half-hour video filmed and edited by DePauw student Allysa Jewell. It chronicled Operation Life's history while also highlighting the service these men and women still provide to the community, responding at all hours of the day and night, no matter what else might be happening."

The complete story can be accessed at the Banner-Graphic's Web site.

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