Leaders from throughout the state are remembering the longest-serving mayor of Indianapolis, who is largely credited with resurrecting the city’s downtown. Bill Hudnut led the city from 1976-1992, and passed away this weekend at the age of 84. His accomplishments include leading efforts to entice the Colts to relocate from Baltimore, construction of the Hoosier Dome and returning "India-no-place" to prominence.
Hudnut passed away this weekend in Maryland following a lengthy illness, according to a statement from his family. He was 84.
Hudnut’s wife Beverly says plans are being finalized for two public memorial services. One will be held in Washington D.C. and the other will be held in Indianapolis.
"On behalf of our family, I would like to thank everyone for their outpouring of love and support during this difficult time," said Beverly Hudnut. "It was a real gift to Bill that he had an opportunity to hear how much he meant to family, friends, colleagues, and neighbors – and to the communities he served – through your notes, cards, letters, personal visits, and comments on his CaringBridge posts."
Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett has asked state and county officials to join the city in flying flags at half-staff this week in honor of Hudnut. Hogsett issued the following statement Sunday:
Today, our city mourns the loss of a visionary leader who cared so deeply for Indianapolis that he dedicated much of his career to its transformation.
Mayor Hudnut was ahead of his time, helping to turn, as he often said, “India-NO-place” into “India-SHOW-place,” and paving the way for the world class city that Indianapolis has become. He was a true public servant, with an energy and personality that captured the hearts and imaginations of countless residents.
Over the years, I was fortunate enough to get to know Mayor Hudnut very well– as an opponent for political office, as a leader of this community and as a friend. In today’s politically polarized world, there are far too few like him.
During this difficult time, Steph and I have Beverly and the entire Hudnut family in our thoughts and prayers. For the City of Indianapolis, there will only ever be one Mayor Bill Hudnut. But it is my deepest aspiration that we will continue building on his legacy and in so doing, make our Mayor proud.
As reaction continues to pour in, we will post statements below.
Governor Mike Pence:
“Karen and I were deeply saddened to hear of the passing of our friend and former Indianapolis Mayor Bill Hudnut,” said Governor Mike Pence. “Bill Hudnut was a one-of-a-kind leader whose faith, leadership and boundless enthusiasm inspired all of us who knew him. We send our love and prayers out to Beverly, his family, friends and all who mourn this uniquely gifted man. God bless you, Mayor. Your leadership and love for Indianapolis transformed our capitol city and will never be forgotten.”
Purdue University President and former Governor Mitch Daniels:
"Bill Hudnut was a big man in all the ways that count most. Big heart, big dreams, and a wingspan big enough to wrap around any citizen who wanted to help him make Indianapolis a greater place. He enriched my life in countless ways, and I will miss him always."
Former Indianapolis Mayor Stephen Goldsmith:
"Bill Hudnut was a remarkable person and an extraordinary mayor. Indianapolis residents now and in the future benefit from his vision and energy that truly transformed our City. Perhaps the most valuable part of his legacy was his life-long commitment to inclusivity and tolerance, which he continued to champion long after his elected life ended. His wisdom, humor and bipartisan approach to attacking the challenges of running a City will be missed."
Indy Chamber Chief Executive Officer Michael Huber:
"As mayor of Indianapolis for 16 years, Bill Hudnut was decades ahead of his time. The man who said "you can’t be a suburb of nothing" positioned Indy for explosive development in downtown and in our urban neighborhoods. He helped take Indy from "India-no-place" to a city that is consistently ranked in the top tier of U.S. cities for sports, culture and livability. Because of Mayor Hudnut, Indy now competes on a different plane, attracting and growing internationally successful companies, organizations and top talent."
Indianapolis Colts Owner Jim Irsay:
"Mayor Bill Hudnut was kind and generous and never knew a stranger. Bill never failed to stop and speak to anyone who stopped him while he was walking on the street, in the stands watching a Colts game or enjoying a cup of coffee anywhere in town. He sometimes seemed larger than life riding the snowplow during the blizzard of 1979 or strutting down the street as an overgrown leprechaun in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade. For all Colts fans, he was instrumental in bringing the Colts to Indianapolis and I will always remember the smile on his face when he walked across the floor of the Hoosier Dome to announce the arrival of the Indianapolis Colts to this great city. We all offer his wife, Beverly, and the entire Hudnut family our comfort and support during this difficult time."
Indianapolis City-County Council President Maggie Lewis:
“Today, we lost an individual who many call the architect of our great city, Mayor William “Bill” Hudnut.
Mayor Hudnut was a visionary leader whose contributions forever changed the lives of families throughout our city. Committed to elevating the profile of Indianapolis, our community continues to stand on the shoulders of his many contributions and has been the beneficiary of his passion and commitment.
Ecclesiastes 7:1 says, “a good name is better than fine perfume and the day of death, better than the day of birth”. Rest well Mayor Hudnut for you have earned it. I encourage our entire community to join me in keeping the entire Hudnut family in your thoughts and prayers.”
Indiana Republican Party Chairman Jeff Cardwell:
"I am deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Mayor Hudnut. He was a true leader who had an deep faith and endless dedication to serving the people of Indianapolis, and demonstrated his passion and servant’s heart on a daily basis for many years. He brought forth a bold vision for Indianapolis and gave new life to our city. My prayers are with his family, friends and loved ones. His impact and leadership will be known for generations to come."