Dr Gene Elwood Sease Profile Photo
1931 Dr. Gene Elwood Sease 2024

Dr Gene Elwood Sease

June 28, 1931 — May 30, 2024

 

Dr. Gene E. Sease, age 92, passed away peacefully in his home on May 30. A loving husband, father, grandfather and great grandfather, he is survived by his devoted wife of 71 years, Joanne, three children David (Donna), Daniel (Beth) and Cheri Corsaro (Kevin), ten grandchildren and eight great grandchildren.

 

He served as chairman of Sease, Gerig & Associates, an Indianapolis-based firm that provides management, communications and public relations consulting to corporate and community organizations. He chaired the company beginning in 1988 and was actively involved with clients until his retirement in 2022.  

 

He served the University of Indianapolis (UIndy) from 1968 to 1989, including 18 years as president, and his final year as chancellor. He was named President of Indiana Central College in 1970 and oversaw the institution’s transition to its new name -- University of Indianapolis -- in 1986. His tenure was synonymous with innovation and boldly seizing community opportunities. The Sease Institute at UIndy is named in his honor as well as Joanne’s. The UIndy Alumni Association created and presents the Gene and Joanne Sease Award annually to a couple that “exemplifies” a similar type of commitment to the university as they have.

 

While he embraced a healthy respect for tradition, he had little respect for just keeping things as they have always been. In his early years, he changed the names of buildings to honor former presidents, changed the address from a short street to Hanna Avenue, and changed the phone number to 317-STUDENT. He had all fuel tanks removed to make it an all-electric campus, with a direct power feed to the campus. His favorite expression was that it is dangerous to drive a car focused on the rear-view mirror - - “keep looking forward.”  

 

He was integral in facilitating important partnerships in Indianapolis that helped lead to the formation of Martin University, the only predominantly black institution (PBI) in the state, and to the introduction of cable TV and cellular phone service in the city.

 

Dr. Sease committed his life to education and service to others. He had been active in many civic and corporate boards, and frequently honored by community organizations. He had continued to serve as Chairman of the Board of Directors of Washington Park Cemetery Association and was on the Greater Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, Indianapolis Skyline Club Board of Governors and Greater Indianapolis Progress Committee where he was president for three years. He was a member of the Downtown Kiwanis Club of Indianapolis where he was a past president of the club and its foundation. He was also a member of the Indianapolis Literary Club and Indiana Society of Chicago and a past member of the University Club.

 

He was the recipient of the Sagamore of the Wabash award from four Indiana governors. He was a 33rd degree Mason in the Scottish Rite and was awarded the Caleb B. Smith Medal of Honor by the Grand Lodge. He received the prestigious Whistler Award for community service, the Whitney M. Young Jr. Service Award from the Boy Scouts of America, Crossroads of America Council, and the Horatio Alger Award from the Boys Club of Indianapolis (now Boys and Girls Club).

 

He has been honored by the Indiana Academy and is a recipient of the Legion of Honor and Top Hat Award by the Order of DeMolay, Man of the Year Award by the Indianapolis Jaycees, Service to Mankind Award by the Indianapolis Sertoma Club and Civic Award for Community Service by the Downtown Kiwanis Club of Indianapolis. He has received the Hoosier Heritage Award, the American Humanics Award for Leadership and Service, the Alumni Achievement Award from Juniata College and the Honorary Alumnus Award by the University of Indianapolis.

 

 He was listed among the Men of Achievement, Community Leaders and Noteworthy Americans, Dictionary of International Biography and the Personalities of the West and Midwest. He was named to Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in the World, and Who’s Who in Religion.

 

Dr. Sease served as chairman of the Indiana State Fair Commission for three governors over nine years and chaired the Central Indiana United Way campaign in 1979. He was past board chairman of the 500 Festival, American Cablevision of Indianapolis (now Spectrum), Community Hospital of Indianapolis, Holiday on the Circle Committee, the Downtown Public Safety Task Force, and Vice Chairman of the Indianapolis Convention & Visitors Association (now Visit Indy.)

 

He was past moderator for the Stanley K. Lacy (SKL) Leadership Series, Class X.

 

He was the past president of the Associated Colleges of Indiana (now Independent Colleges of Indiana), Japan-American Society of Indiana, Sheriff’s Merit Board of Marion County (under three sheriffs), and the St. Francis Hospital Advisory Board.

 

Dr. Sease was a past director of the following:  Bankers Life of New York Insurance Company, Crossroad of America - Council Boy Scouts of America, Central Newspapers Foundation, English Speaking Union, Indiana Law Enforcement Academy, Indiana State Chamber of Commerce, Merchants National Bank (now PNC Bank), Indianapolis Project, Inc., and WFYI Public Media.

 

He was a past trustee of Citizens Gas & Coke Utility (now Citizens Energy), Indiana State Student Assistance Commission, Dean’s Advisory Committee of the I.U. School of Medicine, and Indianapolis Junior League Advisory Board.

 

He was an honorary member of Alpha Phi Omega, Alpha Psi Omega, Phi Alpha Theta and Phi Delta Kappa.   He was a Patron of Mu Phi Epsilon.

 

He hosted “Portraits,” a half-hour television program on WTTV, for six years where he interviewed outstanding Hoosier personalities.  He was the co-author of The Christian Wordbook and author of numerous published articles.

 

Dr. Sease lectured and traveled throughout the Philippines, Taiwan, China, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, India, Egypt, Jordan, Israel, Greece, Europe and Africa.

 

He held five earned degrees -- A.B., Juniata College; B.D. and Th.M., Pittsburgh Theological Seminary; M.Ed. and Ph.D., University of Pittsburgh. He also received honorary doctor’s degrees from Butler University, University of Evansville, Indiana State University, University of Indianapolis and Martin University.

 

Dr. Sease was an ordained minister who had been a past member of the Judicial Council (Supreme Court) of the United Methodist Church (16 years); a past chairman of the Commission on the General Conference of the United Methodist Church, and was a member of University Heights United Methodist Church.

 

While in college, Dr. Sease served five rural churches in central Pennsylvania.  He finished college in three years, graduated, and married Joanne -- a church organist -- the following day to fulfill a promise he made to his mother to marry after graduation.  They served a church in Wilkinsburg, PA for 11 years before he was elected an area church conference leader (Director and then Superintendent). During that time, he completed his doctorate and taught at the University of Pittsburgh. In 1968, he and his family moved to Indianapolis.

 

In lieu of flowers, please send contributions in his honor to the University of Indianapolis at Ways to Give - University of Indianapolis (uindy.edu) or Martin University at Giving | Martin University | Indianapolis. A private celebration of life service will be held at a later date. 

Condolences will be appreciated and can be expressed by visiting www.flannerbuchanan.com, the obituary link and keying in “Dr. Gene Sease.”   

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