Editorial: Tony Moravec’s legacy is a better Columbus

Columbus lost a beloved businessman, philanthropist and community booster last week whose contributions helped sustain our community and enhance its uniqueness in more ways than we can count. Maybe in more ways than we will ever know.

News of Tony Moravec’s death by natural causes at age 72 shocked many in the community. Not the least were those who had joined with him mere hours earlier for a viewing party for local Republicans on Tuesday evening to watch the election results. Former Vice President and Columbus native Mike Pence, for whom Moravec had been a mentor and supporter, had been among them.

“Karen and I were heartbroken to learn of the passing of our friend Tony Moravec, and we express our deepest sympathies to his family and friends,” Pence said. “Tony Moravec lived the American dream and shared his success with the city and state he loved like few other Hoosiers. His generosity created opportunities across this community from commerce to education and left an indelible mark on Columbus, Indiana.”

“He was a great personal friend as well as a friend to Columbus,” Mayor Jim Lienhoop said. “We share in this loss with his family.”

That Moravec’s name will live on is an understatement. His generosity is helping improve the lives of students every day who walk into the new state-of-the-art Moravec Hall at Ivy Tech Community College in Columbus. A longtime Ivy Tech booster, Moravec donated millions of dollars to help make the hall a reality.

At the ribbon-cutting last month for the new hall bearing his name, Moravec received a standing ovation. He then offered few words, but he made them count, as The Republic’s Mark Webber reported:

“Grandmother used to say ‘Use it up. Wear it out. Make it do or do without’,” Moravec said. “Grandpa used to say: ‘Do your job like you own the business. Maybe, someday, you will’. Mother used to say: ‘Get an education. They can take your house, they can take your car, but they can’t take your education’. And Father used to say: ‘Leave the place a better place than you found it.’ Along the way, I’ve picked up a few remnants of my own: ‘Be bold in everything you do. It has a magic about it’ and ‘Bite off more than you can chew. And chew like hell’.”

That’s the voice of experience that built global business giants Blairex and Applied Laboratories in this community and also restored an old-timey downtown ice cream parlor, Zaharakos, that is as sweet as it is unforgettable for anyone who visits our city. And the Upland Pumphouse. And …

There is no way we can adequately pay tribute to all of Moravec’s contributions in this space, but the outpouring of sympathy, condolences and affection for him and his family and friends speaks to his legacy.

Moravec is truly one who did well for himself and did good for his community. In multiple ways, many times over, he repaid the community that had been good to him.

“I’m in Columbus by choice, not by chance,” Moravec said in 2015. Our city won’t be the same without him. But it is a better place because of him.