(June 20, 1927 – Oct. 18, 2011). Gordon St. Angelo was born to George and Lillian (Salat) St. Angelo in Huntingburg, located in Dubois County in southeastern Indiana. After serving in the U.S. Navy at the end of World War II, he attended North Central College in Naperville, Illinois. He became active in student politics in college and served as a communications liaison for the senatorial campaign of Paul Douglas, a Democrat who represented Illinois in the U.S. Senate from 1949 to 1967.

While at North Central College, St. Angelo met his future wife Beatrice Mae Larson, of Watertown, South Dakota. Following their marriage in 1952, the couple returned to DuBois County, where St. Angelo entered the retail clothing business with his father and where their three sons were born.

St. Angelo became active in Democratic Party politics in 1954. By 1958, he was elected Dubois County chairman. As chairman of Indiana’s Eighth District in 1960, he was an early key supporter of John F. Kennedy’s presidential campaign. He managed the successful 1964 campaign of Governor Roger D. Branigan (1965-1969) and then became Indiana Democratic Party chairman. He held this position until 1974, serving longer in this position than anyone else to date.

St. Angelo’s political reach extended beyond the state. He managed the Hubert Humphrey presidential campaign as deputy Democratic Party national chairman from June to November 1968. In 1973, he ran for national Democratic Party chairman, being narrowly defeated by Lawrence O’Brien, another leading Democratic electoral strategist who served as postmaster general in the cabinet of President Lyndon B. Johnson. St. Angelo had personal contact with Presidents Harry S. Truman, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard M. Nixon, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, and George W. Bush.

In 1974, St. Angelo left politics to become senior program officer of community development at Lilly Endowment, Inc. In this position, he was instrumental in expanding the role of nonprofits in public policy.

St. Angelo was a longtime trusted friend of Milton and Rose D. Friedman, prominent 20th-century economists who were leading advocates of free markets and educational choice. St. Angelo retired from the Lilly Endowment in 1997 to help establish the Milton and Rose D. Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, now EdChoice, where he was president emeritus until his death.

St. Angelo chaired the boards of the Indianapolis Star Jefferson Awards and Civic Theatre. He was board member and vice president of the Indianapolis Airport Authority (1983-1999). He also served on the boards of the University of Indianapolis, St. Meinrad College, WFYI public television, the United Way, the Welfare Service League, the State Employment Commission, the Indiana Division of the National Civil Rights Commission, and the Indianapolis 500 Festival Committee.

St. Angelo and his wife took special interest in historic New Harmony, Indiana. Governor Evan Bayh appointed him to the New Harmony Commission, and he served on the board of the Robert Lee Blaffer Foundation, which was created to preserve, promote, and support the historical and educational attributes of the community, until his death (chairman, 1995-2006). St. Angelo and his wife also were active members of Second Presbyterian Church, where he served as both deacon and elder.

St. Angelo received honorary doctorates from the University of Indianapolis and the University of Southern Indiana. He received the Sagamore of the Wabash, the highest honor bestowed by a sitting governor of Indiana, from Governors Matthew Welsh, Roger D. Branigan, Edgar D. Whitcomb, Otis R. Bowen, Robert D. Orr, Evan Bayh, and Mitchell E. Daniels.

Revised June 2023

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