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Remembering Sen. Richard Lugar's legacy of public service

Posted at 12:02 PM, Apr 29, 2019

INDIANAPOLIS — The impact of Richard Lugar on the city of Indianapolis and on international diplomacy cannot be overstated.

Lugar, the former senator and mayor of Indianapolis, died on Sunday. He was 87. As mayor, Lugar was known as the father of unigov. As senator, he was praised for his work to secure and destroy weapons of mass destruction.

In October, Lugar helped cut the ribbon on the city county building plaza that would bear his name. It was the last time many locals saw him alive. But his legacy of service lives on. Lugar was the architect of unigov, combining city and county government and expanding Indianapolis' city limits.

"I think you draw a straight line from unigov to everything that happened since then it's very hard to imagine any of those subsequent developments without unigov," Dr. Ted Frantz, history professor at the University of Indianapolis, said. "It made the city attractive both to people who already were here and to people who had no idea what Indianapolis was other than the 500."

In order to accomplish his goals, Lugar always reached across the aisle.

"He had concerns about structure about how government works and that would include being partisan. But he also had policy concerns," State Rep. Ed DeLaney, D-Indianapolis, said. "He was more conservative than us Democrats. he wasn't off the charts. He wasn't in another zone. He was willing to work wtih people. He was willing to listen to people."

Lugar's intellect was legendary. Former State Republican chairman Rex Early ran one of his campaigns for mayor.

"Would I want to go fishing with him? Probably not," Early said. "I think Dick was looked upon as being one smart dude. He was smart."

Lugar served six terms, 36 years in the Senate, helping negotiate treaties to reduce the chance of nuclear annihilation. He ran for president in 1996. The announcement for that run happened on the same day as the Oklahoma City bombing. The campaign never gained traction.