Former President Clinton speaks at Simon funeral


Kevin Rader/Eyewitness News

Indianapolis - Former President Bill Clinton eulogized Mel Simon as a "remarkable man." He was just one of a long list of dignitaries attending Simon's funeral. When Mel Simon died this week at the age of 82, he left behind a legacy of giving to his community.

It was the kind of procession one would expect for a man who had accomplished so much and shared it with so many. Former President Bill Clinton made a special effort to attend, calling, "Mel Simon a friend to the underdog, and an inspiring example of how a son of a tailor in the Bronx can build a lifetime of success based upon entrepreneurial acumen and a good heart."

The former president credited Simon for turning around the Indiana Pacers franchise, for supporting the Indiana University Cancer Center, the Indianapolis Museum of Art and Democratic causes.

Simon's brother and business partner, Herb, shared memories their childhood in the Bronx, playing stickball and knowing the importance of family and community.

Republicans also came to Congregation Beth-El Zedeck to pay tribute. Gov. Mitch Daniels and Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard also attended as did former Mayors Stephen Goldsmith and Bill Hudnut. Roughly 2,000 people attended the funeral, according to The Associated Press.

Bill McGowan served as president of the Indianapolis Visitors and Convention Association when the Simons built Circle Center Mall.

"Very generous, fun-loving icon, humble. Loved to have a good time. Very generous man, great family man They're just a remarkable, loving, generous family that thank God, loved our city," said McGowan.

The Pacers were well represented at the funeral, former Pacer Reggie Miller, current Pacers, Danny Granger, Jeff Foster, head coach Jim O'Brien, and team general manager Larry Bird were all in attendance.

"They made Indianapolis a big league city. The Pacers, Market Square Arena, Circle Center. I believe their success caused the Hoosier Dome to be built and ultimately gave Jim and Bob Irsay the confidence to come here," said Jim Morris, Indiana Pacers.

After the service, which the media was asked not to attend, the private procession to the cemetery began. Mel Simon, a man who brought an entire community together in life, also accomplished that rare feat in death.

Mel Simon is survived by his wife Bren and four children. A fifth child, Max, died in 1999 at the age of 25.

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Mel Simon dies at age 82