John R. Walsh

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John R. Walsh

Was a life-long resident of Indianapolis. He was a graduate of Shortridge High School and Butler University (B.S.) in business with majors in journalism and advertising. Following his graduation from Butler in 1953, he was commissioned a second lieutenant in the United States Air Force where he served with the Strategic Air Command as a supply officer.

In 1955, Mr. Walsh joined Indiana University as an assistant professor of advertising, conducting advertising seminars around the state for retail merchants. The program was jointly sponsored by Associated Retailers of Indiana and in 1957 he was named assistant executive vice president of Associated Retailers.

In 1958, he joined the staff of the Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce as manager of the membership department. Later, he was named manager of civic affairs and corporation secretary. While at the Chamber he founded "Indianapolis Magazine," a predecessor of today's "Indianapolis Monthly Magazine."

In January, 1965 he was elected a vice president of Indiana National Bank, and director of public relations and civic affairs. During his 28-year career with INB he headed the bank's public relations, advertising and marketing divisions; was elected a senior vice president of the bank and of the parent Indiana National Corporation and was president of Indiana Properties, Inc., the bank's property management subsidiary. While at the Bank he conceived the idea for and executed the first July 4th fireworks display (1970) from the roof of the 37-story INB Tower, which has become an Indianapolis Tradition.

Immediately following his retirement he joined the staff of Eaton & Lauth Real Estate Services (now Lauth Property Group) as senior vice president in charge of business development.

In 1995, he became associated with the Columbia Club, of which he was a member, as executive director of membership and marketing (on a part time basis). He also served as the clubs' interim general manager until October 1996, at which time the club named him "Columbian of the Year."

Active in civic affairs for more than 40 years, he served as chairman of the boards of several prominent not-for-profit organizations in Indianapolis, including the "500" Festival, Historic Landmarks Foundation of Indiana, Indiana Repertory Theater and the Metropolitan Arts Council of Indianapolis. He also served as chairman of the advisory committee for Clowes Memorial Hall of Butler University, and as treasurer and trustee of Park Tudor School. He is a former president of Indianapolis Service Men's Centers, former president of Indianapolis Building Owners and Managers Association, and past president of the Indianapolis Public Relations Society. After serving on the board of directors of Indianapolis Public Broadcasting for more than 25 years, and as the organization's chairman (WFYI Teleplex), he was named a life director. He was a long-time trustee of the Indianapolis Museum of Art and served as a member of the Park Tudor Foundation. He had served on the boards of more than 25 other not-for-profit associations and societies.

From 1975 to 1999, he served as a member of the board of trustees of Butler University and as board chair from 1988 to 1991while championing the directive to return the Butler men's basketball program to the best collegiate program in the state and one of significant national respect, earning him the Butler trustees "Medal of Distinction" for outstanding service to the university, and the "Butler Medal," the highest award of the Butler Alumni Association. He was also a recipient of Butler's "Distinguished Journalism Graduate" award. In 1999, the Butler board of trustees named him trustee emeritus.

He was a member of Meridian Hills Country Club, the Columbia Club and Meridian Street United Methodist Church. He was a member of Kappa Sigma Fraternity and is a 32-degree Mason.

Mr. Walsh was married to the late Roberta Cody Walsh for 42 years before her death in 2006. He is survived by a son, John Robert Walsh, Jr. (J.R.), wife Sarah; grandson, John Robert Walsh, III aka Tripp.

Private services will be held at Meridian Street United Methodist Church. A celebration of life will be held at Meridian Hills Country Club on Tuesday from 5:30 - 8:00 p.m. In lieu of flowers please make memorial contributions to Butler University Athletic Department 4600 Sunset Ave., Indpls., IN 46208.

Published in the The Indianapolis Star on Jan. 21, 2013
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