Column: Badger a Pillar of the Community
I should not have been surprised, so I will label it as totally impressed. Two days before any sign of CarmelFest and long before the masses would descend on Civic Square, Jack Badger was all by himself. Carrying a bucket and wearing heavy work gloves, Badger was stooping to pick up twigs, branches and a piece of refuse here and there.
Do not misunderstand, the Carmel Street Department had the grounds looking spiffy for CarmelFest guests who would arrive to enjoy the 26th annual Carmel tradition. But Badger noticed some additional tidying up which, in any other community, would not have been necessary.
But Badger loves Carmel, loves living here and loves you.
As I watched him get down on his hands and knees to prune a fledgling bush, it was once again crystal clear why Mayor Jim Brainard would name Badger the first recipient of the Pillar of the Community Award.
His notoriety recently comes from his tenacious work ethic to sell every Carmel citizen a Spark Button. But Badger’s dedication to our hometown spans decades.
Jack, his wife Ila Badger and the Badger children moved to Carmel in 1968. Badger immediately got involved with Carmel Dads Club.
When the club outgrew Wodock Field, the leadership purchased 39 acres of farm land off Main Street to build a first-class sports facility. As a volunteer, Jack Badger would play a key role in developing that facility, including countless hours of behind the scenes maintenance and bush pruning.
But 1979 was a tragic year for Jack and Ila Badger when they learned their 9-year-old son Mark, who played sports with the Dads Club was diagnosed with an inoperable brain stem tumor and passed away. But Mark’s dad kept going, pouring himself into that facility. And in 1980, the Dads Club Board voted to name the facility after his son.
There are many thrilling memories of Saturdays at Mark Badger Memorial Park for thousands of Carmel boys and girls. The man who is Carmel’s first Pillar of the Community can take credit for many of those memories as well as so many other good deeds which I trust, most are unaware.
But it is his optimism; his can-do spirit and willingness to help no matter what, which keeps so many in awe. Carmel is a great city and we, the beneficiaries of his love, owe Jack Badger the gratitude of a grateful community.