Carmel City Councilor Jeff Worrell and Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard echo the same sentiment: If anyone has earned the title of Mr. Carmel, it was Jack Badger.
Badger died at age 81 Oct. 9 after a five-year battle with primary progressive aphasia, a rare neurological syndrome that affects the ability to communicate.
Badger was an active supporter of Carmel Dads’ Club, CarmelFest, Carmel Clay Schools and its sports programs and Carmel United Methodist Church, among other organiziations.
“No one can hold a candle to Jack Badger, not only what he did for this community, but the way that he did it, with integrity, enthusiasm, positivity,” Worrell said. “It was always for the good of his neighbors, and he considered everyone in Carmel his neighbor. If I can say anything, I want to grow up to be just like Jack Badger.”
Badger, originally from South Bend, lived in Carmel for 50 years. He was Carmel’s first recipient of the Pillar of the Community award in 2014.
“Growing up in a small town in northern Indiana, I can tell you that any community – no matter how big it gets – can only function with the help of dedicated citizens who treat their hometown as family,” Brainard said in a statement. “Jack Badger was one of those kinds of people, perhaps one of the greatest Carmel has ever seen. Whether you spent any time at the Carmel Farmers Market, a Carmel Dads’ Club soccer game or perhaps a Carmel High School sports event, you probably saw Jack doing what he did best — volunteering. Jack was known for always emitting a spirit of warmth, good cheer, positive attitude and a great love for our city.”
Worrell said it was Badger who saved the day by improving Spark Buttons, which raise money for the CarmelFest fireworks.
One year Badger took five Spark Buttons and wired the buttons to light up.
“We ended up for selling those five for $25 each,” Worrell said. “He took it on as a personal mission to grow the program. He was never satisfied unless we sold every single Spark Button. He would work tirelessly, along the parade routes, at CarmelFest. It was a labor of love that started months in advance. I got spoiled and started to rely on it and the Spark Button program has never been the same since he got sick (two years ago) and no longer was able to help us.”
Worrell said Spark Buttons, now licensed and mass produced for $5, will be sold in his honor in 2019.
Mark Badger Fields are named for Badger and his wife Ila’s son Mark, who died in 1979. He was diagnosed at age 9 with an inoperable brain stem tumor and fought courageously for 13 months.
“His impact on our club consisted of being a parent, a great volunteer,” Carmel Dads’ Club President Jack Beery said. “He’ll be truly missed. He was a great ambassador for youth sports and the youth of our community. He touched every level of our youth, elementary, middle and high school.”
Beery said through the years Badger and Ila would sponsor teams and frequent their games.
“He never wanted much attention, he just wanted to be there for our kids,” said Beery, who remembers meeting Badger as a CHS sophomore football player.
Badger was on the Carmel Redevelopment Commission and the Indiana Donor Network and was a volunteer at the Center for the Performing Arts.
“I feel honored that he asked me to share his life with him because it’s been a wonderful life,” Ila said.
He also is survived by two daughters, Cheryl Kazmierzak, Indianapolis, and Lisa Badger, Carmel, two grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Two sons, Mark and David, preceded Badger in death.
Visitation will be from 4 to 7 p.m. Oct. 18 at Carmel United Methodist Church, 621 Range Line Rd. The service is at 1:30 p.m. Oct. 19 at Carmel UMC.