The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice

Advancing Milton and Rose D. Friedman's Vision of School Choice for All Children

Remembering Gordon St. Angelo

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

INDIANAPOLIS, IN—Gordon St. Angelo, president emeritus and founding board member of the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, passed away on October 18, 2011 with his family at his side.

Describing in just a few words the impact Gordon St. Angelo had on the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, his home state of Indiana and his country is impossible.

St. Angelo’s legacy, accomplishments, dedication and faithfulness to the causes he supported are, quite simply, profound.

No doubt he would have deflected compliments about his legacy, preferring to extol all those with whom he worked over the years. Without question, we know we were extraordinarily blessed to have St. Angelo at the Friedman Foundation.

He served as more than the first president and co-founder of our foundation. He was our mentor and guide. He creatively and tirelessly implemented the vision and reinforced the ideals of our foundation’s namesakes, Milton and Rose D. Friedman. Since 1996, The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice has been the nation’s preeminent non-profit foundation promoting public understanding of educational choice as a means to K-12 school reform. St. Angelo served as president and CEO of the Foundation for over 12 years before becoming president emeritus in 2009.

It was through his enduring relationship with dear friends, Milton and Rose D. Friedman that the Friedman Foundation first came to fruition. St. Angelo was about to retire from a long and successful professional career when Milton and Rose approached him about assuming the leadership role for their foundation. His career spanned an impressive range of opportunities that had fed his passion for problem solving, policy advancement, political refinement, and developing and expanding advancement prospects for people of all ages and socioeconomic standings. And the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice offered Gordon a chance to continue doing what he loved and did so well.

“Gordon St. Angelo was a genuine soul, truly dedicated to educational freedom for all children,” said Patrick Byrne, chairman of the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice. “He worked hard to enact Milton Friedman's principles of school choice across the country. He will be sorely missed.”

In his earlier years, St. Angelo worked in retail – in his father’s haberdashery in Huntingburg, Indiana. St. Angelo’s deeply rooted belief that positive changes must come from compassionate purposes led him from fedoras and menswear to political principles and winning strategies.

From his association with local politics, St. Angelo held a number of political positions, including National Co-Chairman of Humphrey for President Committee, Democratic State Chairman (10 years), Democratic District Chairman (4 years), and Democratic County Chairman (6 years). St. Angelo served five times as Delegate to the Democratic National Convention and was twice Delegation Chairman. He was a Deputy National Chairman for two years.

St. Angelo was among the first Democrat leaders in Indiana to be a staunch advocate of civil rights legislation, which at that time was not a priority for much of the state. As state chairman, he lent strong support in the election of Indiana's first black mayor, Richard Hatcher – a move for which he received strong criticism from members of his own party.

St. Angelo served in the U. S. Navy in 1945-46 and applied for benefits available to him under the GI Bill to obtain a B. A. degree in Economics and Business Administration from North Central College in Naperville, Illinois. St. Angelo received Honorary Doctor of Law degrees from the University of Indianapolis and the University of Southern Indiana.

He was instrumental in the formation of the United Way of Indiana, and in 1983, that organization presented him with its Castaldi Award. Other awards include the National Junior Chamber of Commerce Man of the Year (1965), the Fraser Institute (Canada) Citizen of the Year (1993), and the IUPUI Center of Philanthropy 1994 Spirit of Philanthropy Award.

From 1974-1996, St. Angelo was the Program Director at Lilly Endowment, Inc., which is one of the largest private charitable foundations in the United States. At Lilly, St. Angelo's areas of oversight included free market economic development in North and South America, and other public policy and community development interests. One of his most impactful grant making areas was the work he did to promote the underpinnings of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

St. Angelo's business and civic positions included vice president, Indianapolis Airport Authority; trustee, Indianapolis Foreign Trade Zone; executive committee member, University of Indianapolis; vice chairman, State Commission on New Harmony; vice chairman, Blaffer Trust; trustee, Historic New Harmony; chairman, Indianapolis Star Jefferson Awards; and executive committee member, Indianapolis Economic Club. St. Angelo was a long-time member of the Mont Pelerin Society and was an Elder of the Second Presbyterian Church in Indianapolis.

His accomplishments are numerous. The lives he has touched are incalculable. The void he leaves behind is immeasurable.

Perhaps Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels offered a defining statement about St. Angelo when he said this in 2007: “Gordon St. Angelo is one of the greatest politicians, storytellers and activists we’ve known. But most impressive, he had the intellectual honesty to keep questioning and learning and growing and discovering new ways to advance the interests of his state and nation. We can all learn from his example of the way he has led his life.”

We may best remember St. Angelo as a devoted family man, human liberties advocate, and resolute defender of every parent’s right to choose the best schools for their children.

Thanks to his guidance, we resolve to honor his mission and vision by continuing to work diligently to make educational choice an easily viable option for all children.

St. Angelo’s wife of almost 54 years, Beattie, preceded him in death. They are survived by their three sons, Paul, Kurt, and John, and grandchildren Corinne, Andrew, Anna, Lillian, and Elijah.

The St. Angelo family has asked that in lieu of flowers or gifts, friends and supporters instead consider contributing in St. Angelo’s honor to the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice and Second Presbyterian Church.

About the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice
The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and nonpartisan organization, solely dedicated to advancing Milton and Rose D. Friedman’s vision of school choice for all children. The Foundation promotes school choice as the most effective and equitable way to improve the quality of K-12 education in America.

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