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Eli Lilly & Co. Heiress Ruth Lilly Dies at 94

INDIANAPOLIS, IN (AP).- Ruth Lilly, a prolific philanthropist who was the last surviving great-grandchild of pharmaceutical magnate Eli Lilly, has died at age 94.

A family spokesman said Lilly died Wednesday in Indianapolis.

Over the course of her life, the Indianapolis native gave away much of her inheritance from the Eli Lilly & Co. fortune. Court documents showed in 2002 that Lilly had bequeathed nearly $500 million to charitable and arts-related groups.

That included an estimated $100 million to the influential literary magazine "Poetry," which had rejected Lilly's submissions for years. Lilly began writing poetry in the mid-1930's.

The magazine has published the works of poets William Butler Yeats and Dylan Thomas. Lilly's attorney said in 2002 she didn't take rejections from the publication personally.

Lilly also established two fellowships for graduate students in poetry and an endowed chair of poetry at Indiana University.

The Indianapolis Museum of Art is located on the site of Lilly's parents' estate, which she and her brother donated in 1966, along with a trust income to maintain it.

Lilly's wealth was valued at more than $1 billion in 2002. The family statement said she gave away "the vast bulk of her inheritance, largely to Indiana-based institutions."

A family statement released Thursday said that during her later years, Lilly's philanthropy widened her circle of contacts and interests, and her life "became much more interesting and rewarding."

Lilly was married for more than 40 years but her marriage ended in divorce, with no children.

Her financial dealings have been handled by a court-appointed guardian since 1981, when she was declared incompetent.

Lilly battled depression for most of her life but was helped greatly by Eli Lilly & Co.'s blockbuster antidepressant Prozac, which came on the market in 1988, The Indianapolis Star reported.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.

Indianapolis | Ruth Lilly | Eli Lilly & Co. | "Poetry" | The Indianapolis Museum of Art |

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