Lowell B. Nussbaum · 1975

By Steve Kutsch

Lowell Nussbaum was born on November 6, 1901, in Marion, Indiana. He was the eldest of three children born to Josephine Reuss and Percy L. Nussbaum.

Lowell grew up and attended Mann School in Marion until his father bought a farm near Fort Wayne. He then attended the Country School located outside Fort Wayne.

Prior to his father’s death in 1916 Lowell worked for the Indiana Truck Company where he worked as a laborer. He also worked as a laborer at a box company in the same year.

After his father’s death Lowell returned to Marion. He then got involved in the newspaper business for the first time. He bought a newspaper route for $40. Soon after he bought this first route he rented it to another boy and started to build more routes. The largest of these routes was the Marion Soldier’s Home with its 600 customers. Within a short period of time he became a circulator for the Marion Leader-Tribune (later merged to become the Marion Chronicle Tribune). This involved counting out the papers and directing the carriers. He also became a part-time proof-reader for the paper.

By this time Lowell’s main ambition was to become a reporter. Since he could not get a reporting job in Marion, he decided to try for a summer job in Chicago. He managed to get a job with the Chicago Journal (now the Chicago Sun). During his interview with the publisher he stretched the truth a bit by saying that he had experience, didn’t mention what kind, and that he knew Chicago.

Shortly before he was to return to school the city editor found out that Lowell was getting the street location of his assignments from the corner policeman and decided that $12 a week was too much pay for his knowledge of the city.

Following the summer Lowell returned to high school and graduated from Jefferson School in Fort Wayne in 1919. In September of the same year he enrolled at the University of Michigan.

During the summer of 1920 he worked as a reporter for the Huntington Press (later merged with the Huntington Herald).

In 1921, after just two years at the University of Michigan, he returned to Marion until 1927 when Lowell went to work for the Indianapolis Times (later discontinued). While working for the Times he took a course in flying and became the paper’s aviation editor. During this time he interviewed Colonel Charles A. Lindbergh several times as well as other aviation celebrities of the time.

Lowell stayed with the Indianapolis Times until 1933 when he left to join the staff of the Toledo News-Bee (later discontinued) as their assistant city editor.

In 1938 he returned to the Indianapolis Times as a special assignment reporter and columnist. He stayed with the paper until 1945 when he joined the staff of the Indianapolis Star as a columnist — his column was titled "The Things I Hear." He stayed with the Star until his retirement in 1971.

Journalistic Contributions:
Lowell Nussbaum used his journalistic talents and his columns to get things done for people. His columns reached hundreds of thousands of people with stories, needed projects, and solutions to problems. He campaigned for projects that have not only made improvements in the lives of Indiana residents but also for the rest of the United States. His column was one of the most widely read in the state.

In 1949 Lowell campaigned in his column for a Christmas stamp to symbolize the religious unity of the people in the United States. He met with much resistance from the Postmaster General of the United States but after much persistence met with success.
Another of his efforts which was a great success for the benefit of the Central Indiana residents was the founding of the Indianapolis Zoo. In 1944 Lowell made numerous mentions of the mythical Indianapolis Zoological Society in his column. After several of the columns made mention of it a group of concerned people tried to organize the society but it was not until 1955 that it was originated. Lowell Nussbaum headed the fund drive that eventually made the Indianapolis Zoo a reality. In 1964 the zoo was officially presented to the public.

Lowell was also active in the founding of the Indianapolis Press Club. In 1947 he was chairman of the Constitution Committee and personally wrote the constitution that lasted until 1972 when it was first amended.

Lowell was also active in the Indianapolis Newspaper Guild where he worked hard for the better working conditions for newspaper employees.

Just as important as the issues which he wrote about and got change is the way in which he entertained his readers on a day to day basis. His column was always written in such a way that it brought happiness to the reader. He didn’t write about the events that were front page material, rather he wrote to the issues that affect everyone everyday.

Other Contributions:
Lowell Nussbaum was an active man and always in the center of whatever he was doing. As was mentioned earlier he was one of the founders of the Indianapolis Press Club. In 1940-41 he served as the fourth president of the club and in 1947 was the chairman of the Constitution Committee.

In 1942-44 he served as president of the Indianapolis Newspaper Guild.
The Community Service Council of Metropolitan Indianapolis awarded him the Casper Award in 1961 for service in public enlightenment and relations.

Upon completion of the Indianapolis Zoo campaign in 1964, he served as president of the Indianapolis Zoological Society. Also during his term he served as vice president and secretary of the society. In June of 1976 he was elected as a Board Member Emeritus.
He was listed in Who’s Who in the Midwest from 1965 to 1971.

Of his many honors, one that must rank highest came from the Indianapolis Zoological Society in 1971 when they named the zoo’s administration building the Lowell Nussbaum Center.

Lowell retired from the writing of a daily column on October 4, 1971, with a column titled, "I’m Putting Myself Out to Pasture on Nussbaum Acres."

Lowell Nussbaum was inducted into the Indiana Journalism Hall of Fame on April 28, 1975, by the state chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, Sigma Delta Chi.

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