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David Lindner: Still Scooping Up Life Lessons

David Lindner, former president of Lindner's Ice Cream stores in Central Indiana, is still scooping up life lessons.

Do you remember your favorite Lindner’s ice cream flavor? Was it the perfect peach, or maybe butter pecan or rocky road? Or possibly a catchy name like Raspberry Salad or Purple Fink calls back childhood memories of warm summer nights. The man behind the fondly remembered ice cream is David Lindner, an Indianapolis business visionary and, a man who continues to live an incomparably full life.

Lindner spent his childhood in the Irvington area of Indianapolis. His father and uncle started an ice cream plant and store, Lindner’s Brothers Ice Cream stores, Inc. in 1929, known for offering the finest quality ice cream for a reasonable price. He attended grade school at George Washington Julian, School #57, where he encountered a love of learning and met his future wife, Elizabeth. After graduating from Arsenal Technical high school in 1941, he attended Purdue for one year.

In 1942, his college career was cut short when he volunteered to serve in World War II. With a background in flying and an interest in taking it further, he became an aviator. He flew a CG-4A overseas as a glider pilot and those war experiences shaped his life.

LIndner with writer Beth Taylor at his Morse Reservoir home.

With sharp detail, he recalls packing displaced Parisians into a plane to transport them out of the Buchenwald concentration camp. To squeeze more people onto the cramped plane, he asked everyone to leave behind all possessions. He watched a man toss his pair of shoes to the ground. “After seeing that, I decided never to have a bad day in my life.”

When the war ended, Lindner returned home to the family ice cream business. He spent time re-acclimating to post-war life by diving in and learning every manual job at the company, including packing ice cream cans and scrubbing floors. With limited automation, work nights followed long workdays — especially in the summer.

“We had to go back to the plant every night to fill the stoker and set the ice cream machine,” he said, recalling the days before the factory had an oil-fired boiler.

Lindner quickly assumed a leadership role as the director of the company, working with his mother, Hannah Lindner, who served as president of the growing business following his father’s death in 1940.

After contributing to years of measured growth, Lindner became president in 1961. By 1986, there were 40 locations, and Lindner’s ice cream regularly earned top billing at national ice cream conventions.

Lindner knew that a key component of business success is understanding what pleases the consumer. “On the East coast, vanilla bean was popular, but here that didn’t work. Our customers liked a good, smooth vanilla ice cream at that time,” he said.

Always one to think from a broader viewpoint, Lindner brought convenience stores and drive-thru windows to his stores in Central Indiana. Appealing advertising with coupons attracted new customers.

A newspaper ad from 1982 showing Lindner advertising his "award-winning" ice cream.

For all of his successes, he admits to having failed many times, but garnered valuable lessons from each failure. “Failure makes you get smart and refine your approach,” he said.

During his 40 years with the company, he relied on this knowledge as he found success in other business ventures, such as real estate. After selling the ice cream business, rather than retiring, he began a new phase of his career as an international consultant for several companies, including Chiquita.

Business success lead to far-reaching philanthropic accomplishments. Lindner served as a board member for numerous organizations including Community Hospital, United Way, Franklin College, and The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis to name a few.

In addition to helming a thriving, beloved Indiana business, Lindner excelled at fatherhood. He guided his two daughters and later his five grandchildren, to survive any issue by facing it with grace and gratitude,” said his daughter, Karen Lindner Moriarty, executive director and owner of Lindner Learning Center. Moriarty continues to enjoy the benefits of his business acumen. He is the senior executive advisor at the private, family-owned tutoring center.

Working with his daughter at the tutoring center has special meaning to Lindner who discovered that he has dyslexia later in life. Although a poor student, he credits his love of learning for his success. “The philosophy of learning has allowed me to tackle enormous obstacles in my life and reap rich rewards.” Each year of his adult life, no matter how busy, he has taken a formal course or a class. Most recently, he completed his Stephen Ministry training, so that he can serve as a lay caregiver to people in need.

“Our large, entrepreneurial family greatly benefits from this active coaching in areas of business and finance,” said Moriarty. To help pass on business lessons he’s learned, he and Elizabeth have created and funded investment seminars for their grandchildren. They also established an annual family vacation to keep the members connected.

Lindner greets each day with a positive mindset and decides how to divide a 24-hour day with intention. He begins each day with calisthenics. “You’ve got to take care of your body; it’s the only one you’ve got.”

As Lindner approaches his 90th year, he feels blessed by the richness of a life well lived. He gladly shares his secret to an active, long life: expect change and embrace it.

About Tom Britt

Tom Britt is publisher and founder of the TownePost Network, atGeist.com and Geist Magazine. If you have local story ideas, email Tom@atGeist.com.

15 comments

  1. OMG… I worked for Lindner's from 1974 till 1979 when I was a teenager. I worked at the Shelby Street store across the street from the fire station and then the Southeastern Avenue store, both in Indianapolis. I cherish those memories. Thank you to the Lindner family for giving me my first job and allowing me to gain experience in the world of retail!

  2. Loved the Raspberry Salad! Love to find the recipe for it. Was there a book published of Lindner's Ice Cream recipes? Nothing I find in the grocery today even remotely compares to Lindner's.

  3. I have great memories of going to the Shelby St. Store after kickball games at St. Catherine's. Loved the orange sherbet! The triple ice cream cones were very cool. Remember second dip for a dime time? Mom bought all of our milk there too and we always returned the milk jugs to be refilled. They had those handy red handles around the neck of the jug to help with pouring. Rarely ever spilled the milk. Good stuff.

  4. E K Kadiddlehopper

    This brings back fond memories! My favorite was "black raspberry twirl" back in the late 70s. What specifically happened to the stores?? Something so beloved and cherished should never have been allowed to go out of business!

  5. I wish there were still Linders. I was just sitting here thinking about.peppermint ice cream with marshmallow topping. You can’t find it anywhere else.

  6. Elizabeth and Dave were our best neighbors in Napa Ridge 20 yrs ago. We miss them and wish them the best that life can bring.

  7. I know that if I lead a good clean life, that Linders Ice Cream, and Rosalyn Broenies will await me in Hoosier Heaven.

  8. I used to get a raspberry salad ice cream cone everyday in Broad Ripple when I would pick up my newspapers for my Indianapolis News route at the paper station when it was located behind the Lindner store.

    It was so sad when the Lindner stores closed. An Indy icon seemed to simply vanish with no explanation.

    Beth Taylor, if you are reading this, can you tell us what happened? Please call me at 317/846/6427.

    Thank you, Mr. Lindner, for making our lives a little bit more enjoyable.

  9. Lindners was my first job. I worked at the speedway location on 10th street from 1976-1978. I saved. Every Penny I earned for college.
    Thanks lindners
    Loved the tin roof ice cream

  10. Lindner's was my first job, too, the last two years of high school! I worked at the store on West 16th St. It seemed like Lindner's stores were everywhere in my area while I was growing up. Besides the one on 16th, there was the one on 10th, one in Clermont, and one on west 38th St.. I REALLY miss them! Whenever I'd get a freebee while I worked, it was a butter pecan sundae, made with a ladle or two of hot fudge. Loved the Raspberry Salad, too!! Wish they could return to their glory days!

  11. Chocolate Nut Cluster. Never found it's equal. What a treat it was to go to the store in Broad Ripple!! I'm glad to know that they are well, and thriving, but I am nostalgic for some Chocolate Nut Cluster!!

  12. I remember the location off Allisonville rd and Fallcreek. My Grandmother loved their icecream and homemade shakes. The butter pecan and black walnut was my favorite. We are so thankful to have u in our neighborhood. Thank you sooo much

  13. As kids we rode our bikes to the Madison Avenue at Southport Road location!
    Fondly remember that a sundae meant whipped cream, nuts and a cherry.
    Do not remember paying more… and grimace anytime there is an up charge today ~ lol!!
    Thank you to the Lindner family for the childhood memories!

  14. I remember the East Washington Street location. What was the side street?.

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