Award winner Boehm defines public service

Marc D. Allan
October 9, 2010
Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

Awards generally don’t mean much when you have a resume like Ted Boehm’s, which starts with his time as clerk for U.S. Chief Justice Earl Warren, features a list of civic contributions practically as long as the Monon Trail, and concludes with 14 years as an Indiana Supreme Court justice.

“You get a little recognition in my line of work,” Boehm (pronounced Boam) said with a small smile.

Boehm Ted Boehm, shown here at White River State Park in front of the NCAA headquarters, played a central role in drawing amateur sports downtown. (IBJ Photo/ Perry Reichanadter)

But winning IBJ’s Michael A. Carroll Award is something special because “Mike Carroll was a friend of mine whom I admired a great deal,” he said. “We were all very, very sorry to see his productive life cut short so terribly. So this, unlike many awards, does have a significance to me that transcends the usual.”

Boehm is the 17th recipient of the award, given annually to a man or woman who has demonstrated the former deputy mayor’s qualities of determination, humility and devotion to the Indianapolis community. Carroll was one of four civic leaders killed when two small planes collided over southern Marion County on Sept. 11, 1992. The pilots also died.

Boehm, 72, who stepped down from the Indiana Supreme Court on Sept. 30, can look around the city and point with pride at the projects he’s started or had a hand in. The Meridian-Kessler Neighborhood Association. The Penrod Society, which led to the creation of the Economic Club of Indiana. The Indiana Sports Corp., which set in motion Indianapolis’ strategy to become an amateur sports capital.

He’s been a managing partner at Baker & Daniels, general counsel for two divisions of General Electric, and counsel for Eli Lilly and Co., argued two cases before the U.S. Supreme Court (won one, lost one), drafted the legislation that created White River State Park, helped bring the Pan Am Games to Indianapolis in 1987 and the FIBA World Basketball Championship in 2002, and has served on the Cultural Development Commission since 2001.

His motivation has been simple: “I’m of the JFK generation,” he said, beginning to recite President Kennedy’s famous words, “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.”

“That message resonated with me as a person right out of college, in first-year law school,” he said. “I found it a very satisfying way to contribute, and I’ve had an interesting life as well as a successful profession.”

Friends know Boehm as serious and smart, but he has a playful side, too. Sandy Knapp, the first president of the Indiana Sports Corp., has a photo of Boehm, former Mayor William Hudnut and Amigo, the Pan Am Games parrot mascot, dancing the can-can at a pre-Pan Am Games event.

BoehmSome years later, at a birthday celebration for Knapp, someone showed up dressed as Amigo. As the costumed character danced around her, she remembers “wondering what crazy idiot was inside that costume.” When she discovered it was Boehm, “I was speechless,” she said. “And I’m rarely speechless.”

From Shortridge to Harvard

Boehm graduated from Shortridge High School, Brown University and Harvard Law School. After clerking for the Warren Court (he saw the Warren Commission investigating the Kennedy assassination being formed and thinks it came to the correct conclusion), he returned home and started nearly five decades of civic engagement by helping found the Meridian Kessler Neighborhood Association to deal with concerns about white flight from the city and the destabilization of established neighborhoods.

That led to Penrod and the Economic Club—“We were just trying to make Indianapolis a more interesting place”—and then the Indiana Sports Corp. Boehm and other civic leaders had hoped to score an NFL expansion team, but in 1978 Congress passed the Amateur Sports Act, which mandated creation of a separate governing body for each Olympic sport.

“All of a sudden,” Boehm said, “you had clean, pollution-free bodies of people that had to be somewhere.”

They decided amateur sports would be perfect for economic development, as long as the city could house and stage major events. From that came the idea to build sports facilities with an eye toward giving IUPUI—then a medical school with some night programs—an identity, Boehm said. The Indianapolis Tennis Center was built in 1979, the track and field stadium and the Natatorium in 1982.

“Some people have called me the architect of the amateur sports strategy,” Boehm said. “Jim Morris is the architect. I might be the engineer. Or maybe the plumber. He’s the architect.”

“A lot of people were,” said Morris, president of Pacers Sports and Entertainment. “But there are few people who’ve made more of a contribution to Indianapolis over the last 40 years than [Boehm] has.”

Bigger and bigger events

The Sports Corp.’s first major event was the National Sports Festival in 1982, which brought athletes from around the country to Indianapolis. That put the city in position to host the Pan Am Games in 1987 when Chile, which had been awarded the ’87 games, and then Ecuador, backed out, citing economic considerations.

Boehm and then-Mayor Hudnut were part of a delegation that traveled to Mexico City to meet with the Pan American Sports Organization to bid for the games, which ultimately brought an estimated $175 million to the city’s economy and earned Indianapolis the distinction of being the first host city to break even financially on the games.

At that time, Boehm was managing partner with Baker & Daniels, where he handled complex litigation, including securities fraud and antitrust cases. He said he managed sports as if it were another project.

He was on the Supreme Court—appointed by then-Gov. Evan Bayh in 1996 as the 104th justice in the court’s history—when he served as co-chairman of the 2002 FIBA World Basketball Championships. The organizers figured they merely needed to sell out the U.S. team’s games to make money. They didn’t count on a mediocre U.S. team and 9/11, which hammered domestic tourism.

“I think we would have been fine if either of those events had not occurred,” Boehm said. “But that was a serious setback for the Sports Corp.”—which it has recovered from, he added.

Career public servant

Boehm has spent most of his life in public service, but the only time he ran for office—for the state legislature, in 1970—he lost. So when Bayh named him to the Supreme Court, “it seemed like a good way to actually have a career formally in public service.”

CarrollHe said he brought to the court insights he’d gleaned at GE and Lilly into how large organizations work. He’s proud to have helped fix how jury pool lists are organized.

“We got the Department of Revenue and the Bureau of Motor Vehicles to work together to develop a list from tax returns and from driver’s licenses and IDs,” Boehm said. “The voter lists from many counties had only about 60 percent of the people on them. By merging the lists, we got something that’s more current and updated frequently. And more inclusive.”

When Boehm, a Democrat, announced his retirement from the bench, Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels said in a statement: “There is no replacing Ted Boehm. The best we can hope for is someone who might learn from his example and grow over time into a judge of first-rate caliber.”

Boehm said the governor’s comment reflects the Indiana Supreme Court’s effort—and his own—to be as non-partisan as possible.

How down the middle is he? Well, in retirement—when he’s not working as a part-time senior judge for the Indiana Court of Appeals, or doing mediation and arbitration—he expects to spend Februaries in Florida with his wife, Peggy, watching baseball spring training. He may be the only person there who roots for both the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals.

“I’m not really a partisan as much as I enjoy the game,” he said.

Jim Morris of the Pacers said Boehm is the kind of person who “has an unusual commitment to simply want to make things better. When somebody has the passion and commitment that he has and also has the skills and talent and brainpower that he has, it’s an incredible combination. Mike Carroll would be very proud to have Ted receive this award. And I am, too.”•


Post a comment to this story

We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. Uh, sorry Johnnie, but you are incorrect. Despite the assertions by yourself and various defenders and captains, sports attendance is NOT off significantly at most sporting events in the US. Variances in attendance has been in the range of single digits, both + & - for years now. MLB has had most of its best overall attendance nubers in the last decade, and that trend has been consistent for most major sporting events. The number one issue cited by most fans when asked about attendance is the overall cost of attending. The presence of HD and big screen televisions in home doesn't even register, as a factor for not attending an event. VALUE in the product is the key, and apparently is something lacking in the current ICS. What other explanation is there when with what is routinely touted as the "best" racing on the planet, fans are staying away in DROVES. A "close" title battle into the last event at Fontana, with the "cars and stars" of the ICS, and who showed up? MAYBE 8K. Sorry, but HD TV isn't to blame for that kind of fan apathy.

  2. Do you need finance to establish your business ? Are you interested in getting a loan at 3% from our private company? If so please Email: suntrust_oil@blumail.org

  3. If she was worth the $ the public outcry over direct tv dropping them would have kept them on their dishes as we have seen with other companies. I too quit watching channel 13 after she showed up since I left channel 8 because of her all show rather than production results. When Randy on 8 corrected her she had a big head and incorrectly challenged his correction for pronunciation of a city. Other antics while she matures was too much for me with her very inaccurate forecasts. All the forecasters were predicting rain until Thursday except Chris. They predicted sunny on Thursday but instead of rain until Thursday upon which the sun would finally make it out in full glory Chris was right on the money just as I too predicted looking at the radar on weather.gov. One thing I love about Angela is the fear you can see in her every time it thunders in the winter. It far exceeds the entertainment value of her body language (high heel noise drags, depression, etc) when her forecasts are so incorrect. Her hair stands on end, you have to see it!!!

  4. Good Day, Apply For A Loan I am Mr Fernadez Antonio, a private Loan lender and a cooperate financial for real estate and any kinds of business financing. I also offer Loans to individuals, Firms and cooperate bodies at 3% interest rate We offer any kind of loans. email us via fernadezloaninvest@outlook.com LOAN APPLICATION FORM First name:......................... Middle name:......................... Last name:........................................ Date of birth (yyyy-mm-dd):....................... Gender:........................................... Marital status:................................... Total Amount Needed............................... Loan Duration.................................... Address:.......................................... City:............................................. State/province:................................... Zip/postal code:.................................. Country:.......................................... Phone:............................................ Fax:.............................................. Mobile/cellular:.................................. Monthly Income.................................... Occupation:....................................... Best Regard, Mr Fernadez Antonio.

  5. i will love to share my testimony to you all the people in world i got married to my husband about 2 year ago we start having problems at home like we stop sleeping on the same bed,fighting about little things he always comes home late at night,drinking too much and sleeping with other women out side i have never love any man in my life except him. he is the father of my child and i don't want to loose him because we have worked so hard together to become what we are and have today .few month ago he now decided to live me and the kid,being a single mother can be hard sometimes and so i have nobody to turn to and i was heart broken.i called my mom and explain every thing to her,my mother told me about DR.okoro how he helped her solve the problem between her and my dad i was surprise about it because they have been without each other for three and a half years and it was like a miracle how they came back to each other. i was directed to DR. okoro on his email:okorospell@gmail.com and explain everything to him,so he promise me not to worry that he will cast a spell and make things come back to how we where so much in love again and that it was another female spirit that was controlling my husband he told me that my problem will be solved within two days if i believe i said OK So he cast a spell for me and after two days my love came back asking me to forgive him i Am so happy now. so that why i decided to share my experience with every body that have such problem contact Dr okoro the great spell caster on his email addresses spellcasterforlove@outlook.com