(Feb. 15, 1927-Mar. 26, 2019). Born on Indianapolis’s southside into a community of African Americans who had migrated from Kentucky during the early 1900s, S. Henry Bundles Jr. graduated from Crispus Attucks High School and later was inducted into the school’s hall of fame. He served in the Navy during World War II in Hawaii and in the Army during the Korean War. A 1948 graduate of Indiana University, he is believed to be the first Black student to earn a degree from IU’s School of Journalism. While at IU, Bundles joined Kappa Alpha Psi’s Alpha Chapter.

Three men are seated around a table. There is a microphone hanging from a boom in the center of the table.
S. Henry Bundles, at radio station WLIB, ca. 1955 Credit: Madam C.J. Walker Collection, Indiana Historical Society View Source

In 1950, he married A’lelia Mae Perry, great-granddaughter of hair care entrepreneur, Madam C. J. Walker, and served as sales manager of the Madam C. J. Walker Manufacturing Company from 1955 to 1958. He joined Summit Laboratories, an international hair care company, in 1958 and served as president and CEO from 1962 to 1972. He was inducted into the American Health and Beauty Aids Institute Hall of Fame in 1999 for his pioneering contributions to the ethnic beauty industry.

In 1977, he helped launch Center For Leadership Development (CLD), a program designed to foster the advancement of historically disadvantaged youth in Central Indiana as future professional, business, and community leaders. When he retired in 2000, he and his team had mentored more than 5,000 students, including more than 80 percent who went on to college. When he was honored at CLD’s 40th-anniversary celebration in 2017, the organization had served several more thousand students and annually awarded more than a million dollars in scholarships. His second wife, Helen Baker, was CLD’s vice president of administration and curriculum.

Two men and a woman are standing together. The man in the center is holding a plaque, and the woman is holding a sheaf of roses.
Bundles (left) at the Indianapolis Business Development Foundation’s 14th-anniversary dinner, April 17, 1984 Credit: Indianapolis Recorder Collection, Indiana Historical Society View Source

Three generations of CLD alumni hold leadership positions in medicine, law, media, ministry, and other professions all over the world. They all remember Bundles’ mantra: “In Time. On Time. Every Time. Except when ahead of time, and that’s better time”.

Bundles was a member of the Capital Improvement Board, which oversaw the activities of the Indiana Convention Center, and was a director of the Indianapolis 500 Festival during the 1970s. He was a founding director of Midwest National Bank in Indianapolis and founding chairman of the Indianapolis Business Development Foundation, an organization designed to strengthen minority business enterprise. During the 1980s, he produced several INDIANA BLACK EXPO annual luncheons, attracting high-profile speakers including U.S. Ambassador to Algeria Ulric Haynes, who helped negotiate the 1981 release of Americans being held hostage in the U.S. Embassy in Iran.

In 1980, Bundles was a cofounder of the Neal-Marshall Alumni Club, an affiliate of the IU Alumni Association, created to increase African American alumni participation, and he received an IU Distinguished Alumni Service Award in 2004. He also was named an Indiana Historical Society Living Legend in 2005.

Revised March 2021

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