(Mar. 9, 1892–July 23, 1972). Grace Montgomery was born in Shelbyville, Indiana, and moved to Indianapolis after graduating from Indiana University in 1915. She married Ralph W. Showalter (1885-1959), a vice president and board member of Eli Lilly And Company. The couple had no children.

Showalter matched the wealth and prominence that came with her husband’s position with her own considerable energy and passion for community involvement. During World War II, she chaired the local women’s division of the war bond sales drive. An active Republican, she served as a member of the Indianapolis Park Board during the administrations of mayors Robert Tyndall (1943-1947) and Alex M. Clark (1952-1956).

Showalter served as an Indiana University Foundation trustee for 21 years, the first woman member of the foundation board, and she also received an honorary doctor of humanities degree from Indiana University (IU). In 1958, Robert Laurent, a noted modernist sculptor who became a professor of art at IU in 1942, designed a sculpture that stands near the IU Auditorium and Woodburn Hall at the center of the Bloomington campus. The sculpture is of the Birth of Venus and is named for Showalter. It was dedicated on October 22, 1961.

Showalter was best-known for her philanthropic activities. Her substantial gifts endowed IUPUI’s Center for Advanced Research and funded the construction of the Showalter Pavilion at the Indianapolis Museum Of Art, an auditorium that for many years housed the Civic Theatre. When she died, she left Indiana University $7.5 million, $5 million of which went to the Indiana University School Of Medicine in Indianapolis and $1.2 million to the Indiana University Foundation for a new building. She also left a $2 million trust fund to Methodist Hospital for its cardiac care division. She also created the Ralph W. & Grace Showalter Research Trust Fund, a medical research organization based in Chicago, Illinois, in 1970.

Revised March 2021

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