Former Indianapolis Mayor William Hudnut passes away at 84

Former Indianapolis Mayor Bill Hudnut with his dog, Frosty. (WISH Photo)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Former Indianapolis mayor Willam H. Hudnut III has passed away this weekend.

His family announced Sunday that he passed away in Maryland after battling a lengthy illness.

Before becoming the the longest serving mayor of Indianapolis, Hudnut served as a pastor in Indianapolis, Buffalo and Annapolis.

Hudnut was sworn in on January 1, 1976 as mayor and was re-elected three times, serving for a total of 16 years.

Hudnut was instrumental in bringing the Colts to town and saw over $4 billion committed to the redevelopment of the city’s downtown.

A statue of “Mayor Bill” was dedicated in his honor near the Convention Center in 2014.

The “Mayor Bill” statue. (Photo Provided/Dave Arland)

His wife, Beverly Hudnut, released a statement on her husband’s passing:

“On behalf of our family, I would like to thank everyone for their outpouring of love and support during this difficult time.  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.”

Mayor Joe Hogsett also released a statement:

“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.”

Vice President – elect Mike Pence said in a statement:

“Karen and I were deeply saddened to hear of the passing of our friend and former Indianapolis Mayor Bill Hudnut. 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.”

Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma released the following statement:

“With a strong vision and passion for our capital city, Mayor Bill Hudnut had a profound and lasting impact on all that Indianapolis is today – a world-class destination. He was a personal friend and, to me and so many others, his servant leadership was inspiring. He will be greatly missed, but his influence will live on as Indianapolis continues to transform and grow.”

Colts owner Jim Irsay said in a statement:

“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.”

Services are being planned for Hudnut at the Second Presbyterian Church on 7700 North Meridian Street.

Hudnut is survived by his wife Beverly and four children.