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Clinton, Bird among mourners at Simon funeral

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Former President Bill Clinton described Melvin Simon as one of the most remarkable people he's ever met as he gave a eulogy today during the funeral for the billionaire shopping mall developer and Indiana Pacers co-owner.

Clinton, former Vice President Al Gore, basketball stars Larry Bird and Reggie Miller, and NBA Commissioner David Stern were among about 2,000 mourners who attended Simon's funeral at Congregation Beth-El Zedeck.

"He made a lot of money, but he didn't sit on it," Clinton said. "He shared it."

Simon's philanthropy included $50 million for Indiana University's cancer center and $10 million to the Indianapolis Museum of Art, along with support for other health care and arts-related projects.

Simon's children spoke at the service, as did his brother and business partner, Herbert. Herb Simon shared memories of their childhood in New York City, playing stickball and learning the importance of family and community.

The founder of Simon Property Group Inc. died Wednesday at age 82.

After the hour-long service ended, Simon's casket was wheeled out as Frank Sinatra's "My Way" played. A private graveside service was later held at Beth-El Zedeck Memorial Park.

Simon, who was the son of a Bronx tailor, arrived in Indianapolis in the 1950s while in the Army and entered the commercial real estate business in the city after his discharge.

The business he started in 1960 as Melvin Simon & Associates grew into the country's largest shopping mall company, with ownership interest in more than 300 properties in the United States, Europe and Japan. Forbes magazine estimated Simon's fortune this year at $1.3 billion.

His interests also extended to politics and the movies. Simon and his wife, Bren, were major Democratic Party donors and he produced several films, most notably the 1980s teen comedy "Porky's."

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  • I attended Mel Simonâ??s funeral today. Former President Bill Clinton spoke of the time he played golf on Melvinâ??s private course. He spoke of how difficult the sand traps were. What he failed to mention was the 11 strokes he took in those traps that never appeared on his score card. I know, because I was driving Melâ??s golf cart that day. Mel said to me, â??Count his strokes, he cheats.â?? Sure enough he did.Read More

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