26. Gayle Cook, Indiana — $5.8 billion
Gayle is the widow of Bill Cook, who founded Cook Group Inc., a private medical supplier. Bill died in 2011 and Gayle assumed control. Part of Gayle’s story is insane. The below snippet is from the Indiana Business Journal three years ago:
McCarty, Cook’s spokesman, attributed Cook Group’s strict privacy standards to an unfortunate ordeal that involved Bill Cook’s wife, Gayle, in the late 1980s. She was kidnapped by Arthur Curry, an Indianapolis native and Chicago investment broker who had fallen into near financial ruin.
After speaking to a group of Purdue University business students in March 1989, Curry stole a car and drove to the Cooks' home in Monroe County, aware that Bill was among Fortune magazine’s 400 wealthiest Americans.
With a net worth of $3.1 billion, Bill Cook ranked 101st on the 2010 list as well as first in Indiana.
Curry kidnapped Gayle Cook and bound her hands, legs, mouth and eyes with duct tape, and then called Bill Cook and demanded a ransom of $1.2 million in cash and $500,000 in gold.
FBI agents who had tapped Cook’s phone apprehended Curry 26 hours later as he made arrangements for the delivery of the ransom money.
A Monroe County judge sentenced Curry to 32 years in prison, but he was freed in October 2001, after serving 12-1/2 years.
“Ever since then the company has been very private,” McCarty said.