Tony Moravec, businessman, community benefactor and historical preservationist, dead at 72

COLUMBUS, Ind. — Tony Moravec, a benefactor and businessman who had a giant presence in the Columbus community focusing on education, tourism, economic development and historical preservation, has died.

Moravec, 72, was found dead Tuesday night in his truck near the Factory 12 Event Loft parking lot in Columbus at about 10:30 p.m. Tuesday after attending the Bartholomew County Republican Party’s election night watch party, officials said.

GOP officials said Moravec, a long-time supporter of former Vice President Mike Pence and his brother, Rep. Greg Pence, R-Indiana, had attended the watch party and spoken with a number of candidates and their family members at the event. Mike Pence was among the guests who attended the watch party with his family in Columbus.

An autopsy is planned to determine the cause of death. The cause of death is under investigation, according to the Bartholomew County Coroner’s Office. Moravec previously suffered a heart attack in 2013 that required a quadruple bypass, according to Republic news coverage that year.

Moravec is well-known as the historic preservationist who restored Zaharakos, the city’s old-fashioned ice cream parlor and the developer who transformed the city’s decaying downtown pump house into a destination tourist spot as the Upland Columbus Pump House.

Moravec owned Blairex Laboratories and Applied Laboratories in Columbus. He started Applied Laboratories in 1984 as a regulatory consulting firm.

In the early 1990s, he bought into Blairex Laboratories, which started as a health care company in 1976, and eventually acquired total control. Today, Applied Laboratories manufactures over-the-counter pharmaceutical products — liquids, ointments, creams, gels — for customers. Blairex serves as the marketing arm of the business. In 2018, the two companies employed a combined 120 people.

Most recently, Ivy Tech Community College-Columbus named its new campus building Moravec Hall in his honor. It was announced on Sept. 20, 2021 that the new building would be named after Moravec, who was appointed to represent the city of Columbus on the Ivy Tech Foundation Board in 2009. He was later appointed to Ivy Tech’s state board of trustees in 2014.

Mike Wolanin | The Republic
Local philanthropist and business owner Tony Moravec prepares to speak at the dedication of Ivy Tech’s new campus building named Moravec Hall during a ribbon cutting ceremony at the building in Columbus, Ind., Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2022. The building is named after Moravec.

For more on this story, see Thursday’s Republic.