Influential person: Richard Lugar

Former mayor, U.S. senator

Richard Lugar was a foreign policy giant who spent 36 years representing Indiana in the U.S. Senate, a job he won after eight years as the mayor of Indianapolis.

He is known worldwide for his collaboration with Democratic Sen. Sam Nunn on a program under which the U.S. paid to dismantle and secure thousands of nuclear warheads and missiles in the former Soviet states after the Cold War ended.

He served for decades on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, twice as chairman, where he helped steer arms reduction pacts for the presidential administrations of George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, supported an expansion of NATO and favored aid to Nicaragua’s Contra rebels.

During his two terms as mayor—from 1968 to 1976—he oversaw the consolidation of Indianapolis and Marion County and helped turn a place nicknamed “Naptown” into a rising Midwestern star.

“When he was mayor, I had a ringside seat to the early days of the Indianapolis renaissance,” recalled Purdue University President and former Gov. Mitch Daniels. “He was a doer. It was about getting things done, and he was really good at that.”

In 1969, Lugar persuaded the General Assembly to extend the borders of Indianapolis all the way (with some exceptions) to the boundaries of Marion County. When Unigov went into effect on Jan. 1, 1970, the city’s population instantly rose from 480,000 to 740,000, placing it among the nation’s 15 largest metros.

His signature brick-and-mortar legacy, Market Square Arena, eventually met the wrecking ball in 2001. But the public-private partnership that made the $32 million structure possible served as the template for countless works to come.

But perhaps Lugar’s longest legacy will be his impact on future generations of leaders. The Richard G. Lugar Excellence in Public Service Series has taught leadership skills to more than 500 women. Indiana University created the Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies. And the University of Indianapolis has the Richard G. Lugar Academy for high school students.

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