Lawrence M. Reuben, April 5, 1948 - Sept. 11, 2015
Sept 15, 2015
We are deeply saddened at the loss of our friend, attorney and community activist Lawrence M. Reuben. Larry was a giant in philanthropy and a transformational figure for all the organizations he touched. He didn't just give money; he truly cared about the impact of his investments and honoring the legacy of his parents, Albert and Sara Reuben. Beyond his philanthropy, he remained passionate and involved in the work of our organizations. He was the first one to send an email or make a congratulatory phone call when there was news of a success, and he spared no criticism of something with which he disagreed. He was someone we could count on, to show up at events, to offer ideas and assistance, to heap on the praise when it was deserved, and to continue to fertilize the seeds he had planted in organizations whose work makes life better for all people in Indiana.
Albert and Sara Reuben Senior Community Resource Center
American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana
Beth-El Zedeck, Jewish Education program
Borns Jewish studies Program at Indiana University
Bureau of Jewish Education
Coalition for Homelessness Intervention and Prevention (CHIP)
Goodwill Industries of Central Indiana
Grameen Bank Indianapolis
Humane Society of Indianapolis
Immigrant Welcome Center
Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky
The Julian Center
United Way of Central Indiana
WFYI Public Media
Lawrence M. Reuben never went anywhere quietly, and that was a very good thing for civil liberties, for the State of Indiana, for the good of Indianapolis and for the legal profession. His passing was surprising to many, not only because it is difficult to imagine that voice being still at last, but also because he was not one to seek attention in his own behalf.
Larry was a rare breed of individual who was fearless in providing legal assistance to those least able to receive it. His representation of "one of his favorite plaintiffs ever," Gil Holmes, who is also being remembered on these pages, underscores that fact. Gil was one of the proud group for whom Larry gained justice in challenging the overtly racist tradition at the Riviera Club on Indy's Northside. Open to anyone except people of color and Jews, iit faced a challenge only when Larry took them on.
The deeply ingrained discrimination had been obvious, but confronting it required the lead of a committed individual who was not dissuaded by the fact that no local judge would hear the case, because they had ties to the club. To pay the fees Larry won in that case, the club had to give him a mortgage on the property. It was framed on his wall for all of the right reasons.
So many others Larry represented were not on the front pages of the paper, but were individuals seeking justice from discrimination and unfair treatment that no other lawyer in town would take on. His active participation in many ACLU cases over the years—in the courtroom or just brainstorming on the issues—was simply part of how he believed the law should work for everyone in pursuit of justice and equality. He backed the right to bear arms as vociferously as the right to due process, and was often the man on call on election night to make sure every vote counted.
His personal generosity to the community where he lived was often far quieter. He gave his time and energy as well as financial support to a wide range of groups in addition to the ACLU—from the Julian Center to the Immigrant Welcome Center to CHIP, the Humane Society and many others. He did not seek or demand recognition for those contributions, but he did make sure that effective and constructive use was made of those resources, always with an eye toward focusing on a need that was otherwise unmet.
His pride in being someone who could stir the conscience of a community was earned. And the many labels to which he answered were often contrasting: a lovable gadfly; a charming curmudgeon; a loyal and challenging friend. But there were other titles Larry earned without qualification. He was a loving father and husband, and he was just plain fun to be around. He will be missed and remembered for all he did in too short a life.
IN MEMORY AND HONOR OF LARRY REUBEN
WFYI Public Media is honored to be included among the fourteen organizations that were beneficiaries of the gift from the estate of Albert G. and Sara I. Reuben – made possible through the generosity and thoughtfulness of their son, the inimitable Larry Reuben.
Together we mourn the loss of Larry who became our friend and the inspiration behind our collective efforts. Larry gave serious thought about the best way to honor his parents. He wondered who in the community could leverage his parent's legacy gift for the benefit of those who most need a boost from those around them.
WFYI's role is to "amplify the voices of our community" – to tell the stories of the "Reubenettes", as Larry called us. WFYI uses its multiple media assets to create greater awareness, a better understanding and to mobilize people to get engaged.
The collective effort of the "Reubenettes" is a labor of love. We've been encouraged, inspired, and made better thanks to the interest, critique and guidance that Larry offered each of us as leaders and our "community-profit" organizations.
Larry was a champion of the underserved. His spirit and thoughtfulness will live on in numerous ways – including the fulfillment of the mission of our work together in building a stronger community filled with active citizens.
To know Larry was to love him. And maybe sometimes to be a little bit scared. Scared because he was scary smart and had rapid-fire synapses that fed his rapier wit; sometimes catching a girl a bit off-guard. Sometimes that occurred in the middle of the night, as two insomniacs shared cyberspace. Larry Reuben was the best curmudgeon ever, and the cutest and dearest. He packed so much into his seven decades with us. His gifts include the memories we will all cherish, often with a wicked grin as we revisit his occasional misbehaviors. His gifts include the challenges he laid down for us, on any given day—to stay the course, to rise above, to fight for what's right and to fight for those less fortunate. And, of course, his gifts include the incredible generosity that is keeping so many good programs, causes and missions alive and well and serving those Larry cared about most. I sure do miss him.