Charles Ellis ’59 and his wife University Secretary Linda Lorimer have become the first couple to win the Yale Medal for independent contributions.

Ellis was one of five Yale alumni who received the highest award presented by the Association of Yale Alumni Thursday evening for their services to the University. Businessman Stephen Adams ’59, National Resource Defense Council president Frances Beinecke ’71 FES ’74 ,California Supreme Court Justice Carlos R. Moreno ’70 and Cornell psychiatrist Eve Hart Rice ’73 also received the award, which recognized their efforts, ranging from financial contributions to serving on the Yale Corporation.

“The Yale Medal dinner is always one of the highlights of the year for me,” Lorimer said. “This year, it is a particular treat. I am really thrilled that AYA is recognizing Charlie.”

Lorimer said her husband has spent most of his adult life doing service for Yale. She added that while they have skills in different areas, they both share the same sense of devotion for Yale.

“I like to think that I’m at least a sounding board for some of his good ideas, and he is for mine,” Lorimer said.

Moreno has served Yale in a number of roles reviving the Yale Club of Southern California, serving on the AYA Board of Governors, and co-chairing the Central Los Angeles Yale Alumni Schools committee.

He said Yale students are creative, intelligent and committed to social justice, which is a large part of his motivation to give back to the school. What he most cherished from his Yale experience, he said, were the friendships he preserved over 30 years, adding that some of his friends came from southern California for the ceremony.

“I am tremendously honored and humbled,” Moreno said. “This is the school I love and I have no hesitation to make whatever modest contribution I can.”

Beinecke’s award follows other members of her family: Edwin Beinecke, who won in 1953, and his , Frederick Beinecke, who won in 1959.

Frances Beinecke once served on the Yale Corporation, currently co-chairs the Leadership Council of the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and is a member of the School of Management’s Advisory Board. She chaired the University Council Committee on a Sustainable Yale and was a major player in pushing campus sustainability, according to AYA.

“When you leave Yale, you don’t really leave it,” Beinecke said. “You can continue to contribute to the local community, the grad school.”

Rice, who was a member of the first Yale class that included women, said while much has changed since her class entered Yale, there is still progress to be made.

Rice, a Sterling Fellow and member of the University Council, has served on many Yale committees, including the Yale Tomorrow executive committee, the Yale Club of Westchester Board and the 40th Anniversary of Coeducation Steering Committee.

Adams, a businessman who made his fortune through a variety of ventures — from banking to a recreational vehicle company — donated $100 million to the School of Music, allowing all students to attend tuition-free.

AYA Director Mark Dollhopf, who received the award in 2004, said at the ceremony that the Yale Medal is special because it is “given by peers — the people who have been inspired by what you have done.”

First awarded in 1952, the Yale Medal has been presented to 272 people.