Key Contributor to Indiana Business Community Passes

While the Indiana Chamber is proud to represent the business community of the entire state, our physical home is in downtown Indianapolis. Because of this, we fondly remember Mel Simon, whose contributions to Central Indiana will be difficult to equal. Simon passed away at the age of 82 Wednesday. Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard offered these words:

The City of Indianapolis today lost a true partner and friend with the death of Mel Simon. Mel and the entire Simon family have done great work in strengthening our local economy and improving our downtown district. Mel will be truly missed and forever remembered for his many contributions to this city and our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family at this time."

Inside INdiana Business has the release from the Simon Property Group:

Melvin Simon, shopping center industry pioneer and Chairman Emeritus of the Board of Simon Property Group, has died at the age of 82 after a short illness.

A native of the Bronx, New York, Mr. Simon attended the Bronx High School of Science and the City College of New York, where he earned a B.S. degree in accounting, and an M.B.A. with emphasis on real estate. He came to Indiana in 1954 while serving in the U.S. Army at Fort Benjamin Harrison in Indianapolis.

Upon his discharge from the Army, Mr. Simon worked as a leasing representative with the Albert Frankel Company, an Indianapolis developer of community shopping centers. In 1960, sensing the vast potential in this industry, Mr. Simon, joined by his brothers Herbert and Fred, created Melvin Simon & Associates, who quickly became known for their willingness to do business on a handshake.

From the early years of developing enclosed regional malls and community shopping centers, the company has pioneered cutting edge development and retail concepts that have earned it the reputation as one of the industry’s leading innovators. In 1993, under the leadership of Mr. Simon’s son, David, Simon Property Group was formed into the largest Initial Public Offering in the history of the REIT industry. Subsequent property and portfolio acquisitions have created the world’s largest retail real estate REIT.

Mr. Simon also enjoyed a lifelong love of sports, most notably basketball and golf. His love of sports culminated in the purchase of the Indiana Pacers in 1983, along with his brother, Herb, turning that franchise into one of the most respected in professional sports today.

Throughout his life, Mr. Simon was the recipient of many awards and honors, including the Jewish Welfare Federation’s “Man of the Year,” The Horatio Alger Award and a seat in the Central Indiana Business Hall of Fame. In 1995, upon the opening of Circle Centre in Indianapolis, he received was named a Sagamore of the Wabash. In 2003, he was named a “Lifetime Trustee” of the Urban Land Institute and was a former trustee of the International Council of Shopping Centers. In 2007, Mr. Simon was inducted into The Indiana Academy, a recognition bestowed on him by the state’s private colleges and universities. Most recently, in June 2009, he was named a Living Legend by the Indiana Historical Society.

Understanding the importance of giving back, Mr. Simon had many philanthropic interests, including organizations that serve underprivileged youth, the arts, museums, social services and education. From the early days of the Jerry Lewis Telethon for Muscular Dystrophy, to the formation of the Simon Youth Foundation, Mr. Simon always tried to help those less fortunate, never forgetting his humble beginnings. He was especially generous in gifts to Indiana University – Simon Hall and the Bess Meshulam Simon Music Library and Recital Hall on the Bloomington campus, the Simon Family Tower at Riley Hospital for Children, and most recently, the Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center at the Indiana University Medical Center in Indianapolis. He was a member of Beth-El Zedeck congregation in Indianapolis.

Mr. Simon is survived by his wife of 40 years, Bren; his children, Deborah Simon, Cynthia Simon Skjodt, David Simon and Tammy McCauley; his grandchildren, Eli, Rebecca, Hannah, Noah and Sam Simon; Erik, Samantha and Ian Skjodt; Tasha and Dylan McCauley; and his brothers, Fred and Herbert. He was preceded in death by son, Joshua Max Simon.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Joshua Max Simon Primary Care Center at St.Vincent Hospital, Indianapolis, Indiana.

Mr. Simon’s funeral will be held at Congregation Beth-El Zedeck, 600 West 70th Street, at 11:00 a.m. on Friday, September 18th. A private internment will follow.