Back in 1963, when Dr. Frank Lloyd started working for Methodist Hospital, Black protesters were being sprayed with firehoses during civil rights demonstrations across the country, and Alabama Gov. George Wallace literally stood in the doorway at the University of Alabama in an attempt to keep three Black students from registering. Against that backdrop, Lloyd signed on not as a mere physician, but as the hospital’s director of medical research.
During his 25-year career at Methodist, his stature both at the hospital and in Indianapolis never stopped rising. During his last seven years before retiring, he served as Methodist’s president and CEO. Under his leadership, the hospital’s reputation as a teaching and research facility grew, and in 1982 it became the first non-university hospital in the United States to perform heart transplants.
But Lloyd’s accomplishments went far beyond medicine. Dr. Virginia Caine, director of the Marion County Health Department, said he never hesitated to offer his experiences and views to other minority entrants into Indy’s professional milieu.
“We consider him something of a Renaissance man, or a godfather,” Caine said. “He was very welcoming and would provide a lot of advice to young people … . I think he was a great mentor and helped a tremendous number of young professionals coming into this community.”
Lloyd, who died in 2002, was also a major civic leader and a fixture on the boards of local organizations. He served on the White River State Park Commission from 1979 to 1995, the Planning Committee of the Greater Indianapolis Progress Committee, the Urban League of Indianapolis and the Corporate Community Council.
In addition, he owned radio station WTLC-FM, and was founder, chairman and CEO of Midwest National Bank and chairman of its umbrella entity, Midwest National Corp.
The bank was established to help address the lack of financial services for Black families. While much is said about “food deserts” that lack grocery stores, an equally telling problem is “banking deserts,” where families have a hard time getting such basic services as checking accounts. And often the only place to cash a paycheck or get a loan is at storefront “payday loan” services.
“You are borrowing money at interest rates that are beyond usury,” said businessman and philanthropist John Thompson. “Frank Lloyd started a bank for Black families. Banking is a tough business, and it eventually shut down. But Frank founded it, and he certainly tried to do his best to help.”
After his passing, Lloyd was commemorated by White River State Park, which renamed its visitor center in his honor.