IBJOpinion

HUDNUT: In appreciation of Mel Simon

Bill Hudnut
October 3, 2009
Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

I happened to be in Indianapolis the week before Mel Simon passed away on Sept. 16, and talked with his secretary about visiting him briefly, because I knew he was very ill. But he was too ill to see me.

So all I could do to express my appreciation for his friendship and support across the years I was mayor was to attend his funeral a few days later. I found it to be a most moving and meaningful occasion, and a fitting tribute to one of the outstanding citizens of Indianapolis.

In some ways, Mel was a “character.” He always did it his way. Red suits, flamboyant clothes on the golf course, tempestuous at times, with a tremendous sense of humor. More deeply, he was a man committed to his city as well as to his professional role as one of the nation’s premier developers.

I always knew he was trustworthy, that his word was good, his handshake enough. He stayed in Indianapolis when he was mustered out of the Army at Fort Harrison, founded his company with his brothers Herb and Fred, supported the city in its rise to major-league status, stayed here, built his home and business and headquarters here, and never abandoned us for more fertile climes.

In particular, Mel was supportive behind the scenes with two of the most important initiatives that occurred during my 16 years as mayor. The first was the effort to save the Indiana Pacers franchise. The Pacers were owned by out-of-town Californians who were using the franchise as their cash cow and intending to move it to the West Coast.

We looked around for a buyer who would keep them in Indianapolis, and found one in the Simons. After several conversations, some of us were successful in persuading Mel and Herb to buy the Pacers—basically for the liabilities, as I remember it. They said to me, in essence, “We’re going to do this for civic pride,” a remarkable testimony to their loyalty to their hometown. And they have stuck with the franchise all these 26 years since, helping Indianapolis become established as a major-league town that could “play with the big boys.”

The second project that also never would have happened without Mel’s support and blessing was the construction of Circle Centre mall. It took 17 years from start to finish and had many hurdles along the way. But it now constitutes an essential ingredient in the dynamics of our downtown, and a key component of the urban revitalization that has characterized the development of our central city for more than 40 years.

The other thing that comes to mind about Mel was his incredible generosity. He lacked pomposity or arrogance in spite of the power he wielded. He was entirely a good, decent, humble man who never forgot where he came from.

We all know about many of his philanthropic endeavors, but on a more personal note, I will always be grateful for his support during my 16 years as mayor. It was well-known in political circles that the Simons were staunch Democrats, so when Mel and Bren offered to host a fund-raiser at their beautiful home for Republican me during one of my campaigns, I was as delighted as I was overwhelmed. That was generous of them. I’ve never forgotten their kindness and, at least in my instance, their bipartisan spirit, a spirit that unfortunately seems to be sorely lacking in today’s politics.

Mel will be missed, not only by his loved ones, who were many, but by his city, where he left such an indelible mark.•

__________

Hudnut, who was mayor of Indianapolis from 1976 to 1992, runs a consulting firm specializing in urban revitalization in Chevy Chase, Md. He also is senior fellow emeritus of the Urban Land Institute.

ADVERTISEMENT

  • to Bill Hudnut
    What a pleasure to read your kind words about Mr. Simon. It warms my heart to read your comment after having read so many hateful and insensitive other comments. You are a true gentleman.
  • What a gracious man, This is why you are the greatest mayor my city ever was lucky enough to have. bigd

    Post a comment to this story

    COMMENTS POLICY
    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
    ADVERTISEMENT

    facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

    Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
    Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
     
    Subscribe to IBJ
    1. Hello Dear Are you tired of Seeking Loans and Mortgages,have you Been Turned down constantly By your banks and Other Financial Institutions or Micro Finance scheme. This is let you know with 100% guarantee that we Offer loans ranging from $1,000 Minimum to $1,000,000.00 Maximum at 3% interest rate per Month. We give out LOANS for developing business. a competitive edge/business expansion. email address: michealscottloan124@gmail.com We offer the following kinds of loans and many more; * Personal Loans ( Unsecured Loan) * Business Loans ( Unsecured Loan) * Consolidation Loan * Combination Loan * Home Improvement * Xmas Loans for contact to seek for loan email this email address: michealscottloan124@gmail.com Thanks

    2. My name is Mr Henry Josh and i live in the USA California and life is worth living right now for me and my family and all this is because of one man sent by GOD to help me and my family, i once had a life filled with sorrow because my first SON needed a kidney transplant and all our savings were going towards his medications and this normally leaves us with no money to pay our bills or even put enough food on our table and our rent was due and no funds to pay these bills and life felt so unfair to me and every night my wife will cry herself to sleep every night until one day, i was browsing through yahoo answers and i saw a striking advert of a man that gives out personal loans and that the offer is opened to all and i have heard so many things about internet scams but at this point of my life, i was very desperate and ready to take any risk and at the end of the day, i applied for this loan and from one step to another, i got my loan within 12 hours through bank transfer and you know, it was all like a dream and i called Mr Daniel Jones A Man who is the GOD sent lender i found and said, i have received my loan and he smiled stating that to GOD be the glory and i was so shocked as i have never ever seen anyone with such a GOD fearing and kind heart and today, i am the happiest man on earth because by GOD’S grace, my SON kidney transplant was successful and today he is healthy, i and my family are living very comfortable and happy and if you are in my former situation or in serious and legitimate need of a loan, you can reach this GOD sent lender via fidelityloanfirm@outlook.com

    3. Greetings to everyone reading this comment!!! I am Greg William by name. I am out here to recommend the effort of Mark Oscar,I was in need of a consolidation loan amount of 50,000 and as soon as I got in contact with Mark Oscar Loan Firm on Wednesday last week and on Friday last week as well I receive an alert from my bank(Royal Bank of Scotland Group) that the fund was transferred,I want everybody on this site to contact Mark Oscar now via email on how to get a loan because I got my loan from them and I am very happy,so contact them now. Oscarloanfinance@hotmail.com Thanks!!!!!!

    4. Elected officials, like Mourdock, get vested in 8 years. It takes 10 years for all other public employees, most of whom make a lot less money. So much for the promise to finish out his term.

    5. Great state treasurer and a good man!! Just curious if the folks who didn't quite understand his quote would like to tell my daughter-in-law that God didn't intend her! Mourdock's comment was correct but twisted and the article didn't mention that his opponent and the press let the impression stand that Mourdock meant that the rape was intended. Stupid people!!

    ADVERTISEMENT