BICENTENNIAL: Four who made a difference: Finance & Professional Services

Keywords Bicentennial
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Stephen C. Hilbert


In less than 25 years, Steve Hilbert turned the U.S. insurance industry on its ear, created the fastest-growing business in the Indianapolis metropolitan area, and lost a fortune when Conseco became the nation’s third-largest business bankruptcy in 2002. A Terre Haute native, Hilbert in 1979 came up with the idea of setting up an insurance holding company that could acquire operating insurance companies, consolidate those operations, market products aggressively and enhance shareholder value by increasing investment yields. Hilbert took Conseco public on the New York Stock Exchange in 1985, and acquired eight U.S. insurance companies from 1983 to 1991. Hilbert moved the company to Carmel shortly after starting Conseco, and the Carmel campus grew from one floor of leased space at 116th and Meridian streets to 11 company-owned buildings by 1999. The next year, Hilbert was out, resigning under pressure after a bad bet on a Minneapolis financial services firm.•


Dr. Amelia R. Keller


Born in Cleveland, Dr. Amelia R. Keller came to Indianapolis as a young child and became the city’s first female physician following graduation from Central College of Physicians and Surgeons in 1893. Keller established a general practice in the city, specializing in pediatrics, and served as an associate professor of diseases of children at the Indiana University School of Medicine. In the early years of the 20th century, Keller worked tirelessly for women’s suffrage, serving from 1911 to 1917 as the first president of the Woman’s Franchise League of Indiana. The league was instrumental in prodding the General Assembly to ratify the 19th Amendment in 1920. Following ratification of women’s suffrage, Keller was active in the state’s Republican Party until her death in 1943.•


Eli Lilly


Eli Lilly was born in Indianapolis in 1887, the son of Josiah K. and Lilly Ridgely Lilly and the grandson and namesake of Col. Eli Lilly, founder of the Indianapolis pharmaceutical firm that bears his name. He went to work for his father in 1907 as a manufacturing chemist and commissioner of efficiency. Eli Lilly served as president of the company from 1932 to 1948 and honed Lilly’s production techniques to a model of efficiency. He also created a research culture that solidified the company’s leadership in insulin and antibiotic development during the 1950s and 1960s. Eli Lilly died in Indianapolis in January 1977.•


Dr. William N. Wishard


Dr. William N. Wishard lived long enough to see the hospital he served as superintendent in the 1880s become Marion County General Hospital, a municipal health care facility renamed in his honor in 1975. Born in Greenwood, Wishard did pioneering work in prostate surgery. He served for more than 50 years as chairman of genito-urinary diseases at Indiana Medical College and the Indiana University School of Medicine. Wishard was a strong proponent of the 19th-century merger that created Indiana Medical College, and he was instrumental in helping establish the Indianapolis Training School for Nurses. Following his death in 1941, he was described as “urologist, educator, administrator, medical statesman, church and family man.”•

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