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McClatchy-Tribune  08/31/2014 8:15 AM ET
Prominent Indianapolis developer Howard Peterson dies at 84 [The Indianapolis Star :: ]

Aug. 31--Howard C. Peterson, a noted Indianapolis developer and the father of a former mayor, has died. He was 84.

Funeral arrangements for Peterson, who died Friday after a long illness, are being handled by the Flanner & Buchanan Funeral Home in Carmel.

Peterson's son, Bart, is a prominent Democrat and past mayor of Indianapolis. Another son, Tim, is chief executive officer of the development company that his father founded, The Peterson Co.

Bart Peterson said his father "marched to the beat of his own drum" and didn't care about what other people thought. He said his father was a natural-born storyteller who told stories with such memorable and infectious enthusiasm. When he was the city's mayor, Bart Peterson said people came up to him to talk about conversations they had with his father.

"They would say things like, 'Twenty years ago, I sat next to your father on the plane,' " Bart Peterson said. "They never met him before and never saw him since, but 20 years later, their memories of spending two hours next to him on an airplane were still vivid."

Peterson is well known as the developer of the Castleton Commercial Office Park in the 1970s, which helped spur the rapid growth of the northeast corner of Indianapolis.

Peterson, a former bricklayer who became a general contractor and then a developer, rode a Harley-Davidson motorcycle to Indianapolis from his hometown of Janesville, Wis., in 1949 with just $20 in his pocket to attend the Indianapolis 500. The 19-year-old liked the city so much, he decided to stay.

"I had an aunt and uncle who had just moved to Indianapolis, and they convinced me to stick around," Peterson said from his winter home in Florida in 2002, during an interview with The Indianapolis Star. "Before I knew it, I had myself a job laying block for houses."

Peterson saved $15,000 and put a downpayment on 9.5 acres in the Castleton area in the late 1960s, completing his first building there in 1968. He bought surrounding property to create the office park. When he sold it in 1985 for about $73 million, the park had grown to 50 buildings with 1.3 million square feet of space and more than 200 tenants.

He also developed another 187 acres on the Northeastside into The Precedent office park.

Peterson had other interests, too, including the horse-racing industry. He developed Viking Meadows Farm, which bred and trained Standardbred racehorses, and he was twice named "Indiana Horseman of the Year."

Peterson won numerous honors in his career, including being inducted into Junior Achievement's Central Indiana Business Hall of Fame in 2002.

Peterson's daughter-in-law Amy Minnick Peterson, the wife of Bart, posted this message about him on Facebook:

"A great man is one who leaves others at a loss after he is gone. Rest in peace my beloved father-in-law, Howard Peterson. You will leave a huge void in our lives."

According to Flanner & Buchanan, Peterson is survived by his wife of 64 years, Dolores Mable (Saxe) Peterson; five children, Bart, Tim, Cheryl Stitt, Celeste Stiller and and Sandra Faust-Mesropian as well as numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Calling will be from 4 to 8 p.m. on Thursday at Flanner & Buchanan-Carmel, 325 E. Carmel Drive. Services will be at 11 a.m. on Friday at Advent Evangelical Lutheran Church, 11250 N. Michigan Road, Zionsville, with additional calling from 10 to 11 a.m. at the church, prior to the services.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Gennesaret Free Clinics, 615 N. Alabama St., Ground Floor, Suite B, Indianapolis, IN 46204, or to Foundation for Lutheran Child and Family Services, 1525 N. Ritter Ave., Indianapolis, IN 46219.

 

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