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Legatus Magazine

Cover Story
Judy Roberts | author
Nov 01, 2011
Filed under Featured
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Seeds of generosity

Indianapolis Legates L.H. and Dianne Bayley embody joyful, faithful stewardship . . .

As children, L.H. and Dianne Bayley both had life-changing experiences that planted the seeds of generosity deep in their hearts.

For L.H., it was helping his father and siblings harvest the field of a neighboring farmer who had broken both his legs — and then seeing how moved the man was by his family’s gesture. For Dianne, it was realizing that, without funding from a charitable organization, her parents could not have afforded the polio treatment that allowed her to walk again.

Because giving left a lasting impression on them, from the beginning of their marriage in 1959 the Bayleys — members of Legatus’ Indianapolis Chapter — took a team approach to helping others. First, as a young couple living on just $450 a month, they focused mainly on raising money for worthy causes, but as soon as they were able, they expanded their largesse with substantial donations from their own resources.

To help a neighbor

Today, the chairman of the board for David A. Noyes & Company and his wife continue to give, not only from their treasure, but from their time and talent, serving as chairs and co-chairs of fundraising events and campaigns — and as volunteers for various charitable organizations. Over the years, they have raised millions of dollars for institutions and organizations like St. Vincent Hospital and the Catholic Archdiocese of Indianapolis, earning them numerous accolades including Legatus’ 2009 Bowie Kuhn Special Award for Evangelization.

Dianne Bayley said that although much of their work is done together — such as co-chairing the local Saks Fifth Avenue Key to the Cure, which raises funds for women’s cancer treatment and research — each has separate involvements as well.

L.H. Bayley is the more public half of the team, serving or having served on numerous boards ranging from the Indianapolis Catholic Community Foundation and the St. Vincent Foundation to the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University and the American Pianist Association. But Dianne also is known for her 40-year involvement with the Easter Seals Crossroads Guild, a group that helps children with disabilities. Dianne also was the first woman to serve on the archdiocese’s Catholic Cemeteries Board.

When a reporter from the Indianapolis Star asked L.H. what motivates him to give, he talked about the charitable groups that he and his wife help. But when pressed, he recounted the night his father informed him and his four siblings that they wouldn’t be going to school the next day because they would be harvesting a neighboring farmer’s crop.

Bayley recalled how his family formed a small convoy the next morning as they took their tractors, combine and wagons to the neighbor’s farm. “As we pulled up,” Bayley said, “I watched this man try to get out of his wheelchair to hug my dad.” The man was crying, and all at once, Bayley said, “I got it.”

Back home, when they were putting their equipment away, the 11-year-old Bayley told his father, “That was really fun.” His father responded, “It always is to help a neighbor.”

Dianne started thinking seriously about giving to others as a 13-year-old when she awoke one day and couldn’t move her legs. After a six-month hospitalization and follow-up treatment, she made a full recovery, but knew it wouldn’t have been possible without the March of Dimes, which covered the cost of her care.

“I thought, ‘Here’s an organization doing good for people. I hope someday I can do something through an organization that helps others.’”

By the time she went to the University of Illinois, Dianne was committed to volunteering. “My sorority sisters were watching soap operas and playing bridge. I figured if you had spare time, you had to be doing something good.”

Meanwhile, L.H. was emerging as a leader on the same campus, organizing such efforts as a campaign to raise money for Radio Free Europe. It was while acting as a judge for a beauty contest fundraiser that he found the life partner who would share his passion for giving. Dianne was a contestant and, although L.H. still won’t say how he voted, Dianne is fairly certain he wanted to make sure she didn’t attract attention from possible rivals. The former Miss South Florida said, “I think it was the only contest in which I came in second.”

A winning team

Although neither realized at the time that they were about to embark on a lifetime of philanthropic work, L.H. Bayley said they both observed that the other cared for and about other people.

Almost as soon as they moved to Indianapolis after their wedding (they couldn’t afford a honeymoon), the Bayleys canvassed their apartment complex to raise money for the organization that had helped pay for Dianne’s polio treatment. Although they had some lean years when their family doubled in size early in their marriage with the birth of twin daughters (they later added a son), L.H. said their desire to give not only time and talent, but their monetary resources burgeoned when they joined an inner-city parish that had several outreaches to people in need.

As they became people of means thanks to L.H.’s success in the financial sector, the Bayleys could have easily stepped back from their volunteer work and fundraising by simply writing checks to charitable groups.

“Let’s face it, sometimes giving your time is more of a sacrifice than giving your money,” said Monsignor Joseph Schaedel, pastor of St. Luke Parish, chaplain to Legatus’ Indianapolis Chapter and former vicar general of the Indianapolis archdiocese. “It’s easy to write a big check and be done with it. I’ve seen [the Bayleys] give their time on Thanksgiving and Christmas at a shelter or a food pantry. It’s a reminder that stewardship is more than just money.”

Patrick Rooney, executive director of the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University, said the fact that the Bayleys give of their time and money is important to the organizations they serve and it motivates others to do likewise.

“The other piece is that they are very committed to these causes and they want them to be successful, so they give of their time in leadership and fundraising positions to maximize the probability these organizations are successful,” he said.

Nancy Frick, director of the St. Vincent Foundation, which supports a variety of medical facilities in greater Indianapolis, said it’s evident that L.H. and Dianne Bayley are a winning team. “They’re one of those unique couples in harmony with each other and obviously deeply in love with each other.”

Frick said the Bayleys’ union has been strengthened by difficulty. Dianne is a cancer survivor and the couple lost a daughter, Chris Bennett, to a rare form of cancer in 2009 after a sevenyear illness. Despite that, they continue to serve others.

“I once said if I went in the corner to have a good cry, I’d probably never come out,” Dianne said. “We were never bitter about Chris dying at such a young age and suffering as she did. We just wanted to give back. I found staying involved — especially working three years in a row on the St. Vincent cancer-care benefit — was healing therapy for me.”

Added L.H.: “One could look at our hurt and sorrow as the same hurt and sorrow other people have felt. But there are other pains out there also. You can’t just help the world to heal one kind of pain. You’ve got to help the world to heal all kinds of pain.”

Judy Roberts is a Legatus Magazine staff writer.

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