Lifetime of giving: Indianapolis resident Frank Basile knows value of philanthropy


Giving back is a way of life for Frank Basile, 84, of Indianapolis. He and his wife Katrina are renown philanthropists in the metro area, particularly in the arts and culture and health care sectors.

Although their names can be found on numerous buildings throughout the area, Basile emphasizes the reasons why he and his wife give back to the community.

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Frank Basile, right, and his wife Katrina Basile are renowned philanthropists. (Photos courtesy of Frank Basile)

“My philanthropy stems from my personal mission to help people, particularly those who are marginalized, to achieve their potential and become all they can become and achieve their goals,” Basile said.

Early on in his career, Basile began his mission to help people through motivational speeches, workshops and writing. His nonprofit and philanthropic involvement began with the Indianapolis Art Center in 1987.

“Through the Indianapolis Art Center, we direct our philanthropy towards their ArtReach program, which is designed to make art available for those who cannot otherwise afford it,” Basile said.

A New Orleans native, Basile’s first experience with theater was while attending Tulane University.

“I went to my first play, which was given by the drama department, and I thoroughly enjoyed it,” he said. “And that’s when I first realized how important the arts are, to the quality of life, to the enjoyment of life.”

The experience fueled his desire to provide access to the arts to the underserved, particularly children, something the area arts community is grateful for.

“When children get involved in arts, whether it’s performing arts or other type of arts, you know, it creates a level of discipline and focus that very few other things that I can think of that can do that for young person,” said Jeff McDermott, president and CEO of the Center for the Performing Arts in Carmel.

“We are also involved in storytelling arts of Indiana, where we sponsor a scholarship once a year, to a storyteller, to develop an original story and present it at the Historical Society in Indianapolis,” Basile said.

After retiring in 2008 after 33 years as an executive with the Gene B. Glick Co., Basile knew he was in a position to give back.

“Happiness and success are byproducts of the service we render through contributing money and/or volunteer time to worthwhile causes and not-for-profit organizations that are important to us,” Basile said.

Basile would go on to serve on the board and contribute financially to dozens of nonprofits.

“Frank’s involvement and his support of any arts organization just elevates it immediately,” McDermott said. “He doesn’t just put his name on things or add his name to an organization. Frank rolls his sleeves up and gets very involved in every aspect of the organization.”

As a founding board member of the Center for the Performing Arts, Basile previously served as interim CEO for 14 months.

“We went through some challenging times with the Center, and Frank stepped up in ways that were just remarkable and gave his time, talent and treasure to almost single handedly pull us through,” McDermott said. “He is part of the lifeblood of this organization and has been from day one.”

Besides the arts, Basile – who has authored 14 books — has also been involved philanthropically with Eskenazi Health.

“We have provided funding for Eskenazi hospital through a program to enable college graduates with physical disabilities to secure employment in their field of training,” Basile said. “These funds then would enable an employer to make adaptations to enable the employee to perform at the level of everyone else.”

Basile was transferred to Indianapolis from Detroit while working as an executive for The Ford Motor Co. in 1971. He has two sons and a stepson.

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Frank and Katrina Basile in Bhutan. (Photos courtesy of Frank Basile)

Traveling the world

Frank and Katrina Basile have visited more than 190 countries all seven continents and don’t plan to stop traveling anytime soon.

“Antarctica, Greenland, Iceland, Saudi Arabia, Iran — we travel as much as possible on our own because we like to get the feel for the people in the culture,” Basile said.

Basile has written travel columns and authored the book “Traveling with Frank and Katrina.”

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Frank and Katrina Basile in Antartica

Basile said he enjoys all travel destinations but particularly enjoyed Antarctica “because it was so different.”

Basile said he and his wife look forward to all their trips and regard each one as a unique experience.

“That’s the way we look at trips because I personally research every trip we take, and I get excited about the next trip, because that’s uppermost in my mind,” he said. “And then we take the trip, and then, I start planning for another one.”

Basile said their next trip will be to Papua New Guinea.