Society Column: Mayors proclaim July 11 Lorene Burkhart Day


July 11 marked a joint celebration of Lorene Burkhart’s 80th birthday and an awards ceremony in her honor.

Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard and Indianapolis Mayor Gregory Ballard proclaimed the day “Lorene Burkhart Day” for each of the two cities.

Burkhart, a longtime resident of Indianapolis, recently moved to Carmel. Lorene Burkhart is a well-known philanthropist, author, publisher, radio and TV personality, civic leader and pioneer for women in the work place.

After recent heart surgery, Burkhart appeared to be recovering well and in great spirits as friends Barbara Boyd, Alpha Blackburn, Janie Hodges, Pat Wachtel, Syd Steele, Donna Martz, Peggy Sabens, Sharon Hunt, Rosie Steinmetz, Jeanne Olson, Bob Olson, Jenny Jones, Jim Jane Gradison and Winnie Ballard, to name a few, joined the celebration.

Mark Shunk, one of Lorene’s sons, flew in from Los Angeles to honor his mother at the ceremony. His wife, Suzy, joined him. Other family members enjoyed the celebration, as well. Shunk spoke briefly and noted that one of the most important lessons he learned from his mother was about giving back to the community.

Lorene Burkhart graduated from Purdue University in 1956 and has been a loyal supporter of the institution ever since. In 1994, she donated $1 million dollars to establish the Center for Families. In 1997, she received an Honorary Doctorate of Letters for her many leadership contributions.

In 1995, she received an Honorary Doctorate of Humanities from the University of Indianapolis. In 2013, she was awarded an Honorary Associate of Science Degree from Ivy Tech Community College. Her passion for teaching and learning continues with her participation to further adult literacy through the Indy Reads program.

When asked what stands out as the most important achievement to her personally, Burkhart said, “I was a pioneer for women, opening the door for achievement in the work place.”

She also said several attributes helped to contributed to her success.

“A positive attitude balanced with common sense and facts. Look at things as opportunity, then execute the tasks at hand,” she said. “Life is full of surprises. I recently survived heart surgery and drastic downsizing of my living space. It’s a time of transition. Who knows what’s next?”

She will continue organizing projects and staying active, although, the immediate task at hand is cardio therapy. Living life well, for her, is identifying things that need to be done and doing it. It’s also about having fun.

“Fun for me is being with family and friends. Funny people with good jokes make me laugh,” she said.

At 80, Lorene Burkhart continues to live life well.


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