MARCUS: Indiana loses a devoted and native son

Morton Marcus
October 17, 2009
Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share
Morton Marcus

When a friend dies, you find yourself wishing you had spent more time together. You realize how little you really know about your friend. You remember the many small moments that built respect, friendship and affection.

My friend Chris Linn died last week. He had gone to North Central High School and The College of William and Mary in Virginia, and graduated from Butler University. Chris served in Vietnam, worked in real estate and mortgage banking, helped poor people get housing, and worked at Indiana University’s Indiana Business Research Center. He had two grown sons and was married to an exceptional woman.

But there was so much more than these details to Chris, and I don’t know anyone who can summarize his humanity and his values.

Chris could fit in anywhere from a neighborhood bar to an exclusive suburban country club. When he put on a tie and dress jacket, he looked like a distinguished ambassador with his trim body and gray hair. In shirtsleeves at a baseball game, Chris was the guy who knew when to sustain a conversation as well as when not to talk because of what was happening on the field. You wanted to buy him a beer.

Chris loved golf, but his skill was engaging people. His research at the IBRC was characterized by personalization. He could interview anyone from college presidents and mayors to kids loitering on the street. From each he would derive valuable information and insight that was not accessible by standard data-gathering methods. Chris knew how to relate to people.

When we were doing school-enrollment projects at the IBRC, Chris went into the community to interview real estate agents, landowners, utility executives, city planners, homeowners, and people on the street. He drove the roads and noted the telltale signs of lifestyle unseen by most researchers. His eyes told him what the demographic and economic numbers did not reveal.

The results were objective enrollment forecasts that were far superior to the “professional” projections generated for proponents or opponents of a given building initiative.

Politically, Chris was an Indiana Republican, not one of the shrill, single-issue obstructionists. He believed in individual responsibility and was distrustful of large organizations (public or private). He would have agreed with Howard Cohen, chancellor of Purdue University-Calumet, who wants to rename tax bills “service” bills so people connect their payments with the services provided by governments.

Chris’ life ended early because he chose to continue smoking cigarettes even though he knew all along the potential consequences. The last time I talked to him, he asked me to help him get an absentee ballot so he could vote for the Wishard Hospital improvements on the November ballot in Marion County. I don’t know if he voted before he died. In either case, Chris Linn went out as a responsible citizen.

When the new year comes, I’ll miss his annual letter, a treasure of wit and invention based on the humorous truths of our ordinary lives. If Chris had written these words, they would be in limerick form. He was good at that, too.•


Marcus taught economics for more than 30 years at Indiana University and is the former director of IU’s Business Research Center. His column appears weekly. He can be reached at mmarcus@ibj.com.


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. I think the poster was being sarcastic and only posting or making fun of what is usually posted on here about anything being built in BR or d'town for that matter.

  2. Great news IRL fans: TURBO the IMS sanctioned movie about slugs running the Indy 500 has caught the Securities and Exchange Commission because Dreamworks had to take a $132MILLION write down...because the movie was such a flop. See, the Indy/IMS magic soiled another pair of drawers. Bwahahahahahaha! How's CARTOWN doing? HAHAHAHA...Indy is for losers.

  3. So disappointed in WIBC. This is the last straw to lose a good local morning program. I used to be able to rely on WIBC to give me good local information, news, weather and traffic on my 45 minute commute.Two incidents when I needed local, accurate information regarding severe weather were the first signs I could not now rely on WIBC. I work weekend 12 hour nights for a downtown hospital. This past winter when we had the worst snowfall in my 50 years of life, I came home on a Sunday morning, went to sleep (because I was to go back in Sunday night for another 12 hour shift), and woke up around 1 p.m. to a house with no electricity. I keep an old battery powered radio around and turned on WIBC to see what was going on with the winter storm and the roads and the power outage. Sigh. Only policital stuff. Not even a break in to update on the winter storm warning. The second weather incident occurred when I was driving home during a severe thunderstorm a few months ago. I had already gotten a call from my husband that a tornado warning was just southwest of where I had been. I turned to WIBC to find out what direction the storm was headed so I could figure out a route home, only to find Rush on the air, and again, no breaking away from this stupidity to give me information. Thank God for my phone, which gave me the warning that I was driving in an area where a tornado was seen. Thanks for nothing WIBC. Good luck to you, Steve! We need more of you and not the politics of hatred that WIBC wants to shove at us. Good thing I have Satellite radio.

  4. I read the retail roundup article and tried Burritos and Beers tonight. I'm glad I did, for the food was great. Fresh authentic Mexican food. Great seasoning on the carne asada. A must try!!! Thanks for sharing.

  5. John, unfortunately CTRWD wants to put the tank(s) right next to a nature preserve and at the southern entrance to Carmel off of Keystone. Not exactly the kind of message you want to send to residents and visitors (come see our tanks as you enter our city and we build stuff in nature preserves...