Nature 16

Donald William Tanselle

August 4, 1924 ~ May 2, 2021 (age 96)


Donald William Tanselle passed away peacefully at 8:54 pm on May 2nd, 2021 at the age of 96 years.

He is lovingly remembered by his sons Tim R. Tanselle (Tina) of Crawfordsville, IN, John W. Tanselle (Lisa) of Pittsboro, IN, his grandsons Zach T. Tanselle (Cara) of Brownsburg, IN, Ryan W. Tanselle (Lauren) of Brownsburg, IN, Rhett M. Tanselle (Janice) of Brooklyn, NY, and Jason W. Tanselle (Rachael) of  Westfield, IN. He is predeceased by Juanita, his loving wife of 66 years, his parents William and Gertrude, and his brother Richard.

Don was born in Pittsboro, Indiana and was a graduate of Canterbury College and The University of Wisconsin Graduate School of Banking. He also holds an honorary PhD from the University of Indianapolis. He served with the U.S. Army in Africa and the Middle East from 1943 to 1946. He joined Merchants National Bank as a Management Trainee in June of 1948, rose to Vice President in charge of Merchants Bank’s branch banking system in 1962, and was appointed Senior Vice President of Branch Administration and Operations in 1969. He was promoted to Executive Vice President and Cashier in 1970, was elected President of Merchants National Corporation in 1979, Vice Chairman of Merchants National Bank in 1983, and Vice Chairman of Merchants National Corporation in 1986. Don retired in 1987 but continued to serve as Chairman of the Executive Committee of Merchants National Corporation and acted as a consultant to Merchants National Bank and Corporation for mergers and acquisitions as well as a Senior Consultant to Sease, Gerig & Associates.

Don’s calm leadership and wise counsel was ever-present at many levels including his family, friends, church, and countless activities that merged the private and public sectors. In 1978, he played a key role in preliminary secret meetings that ultimately culminated in the Camp David Peace Accords between Israel and Egypt under President Jimmy Carter. In 1980, Mayor Bill Hudnut asked him to serve as co-chairman of the Tanselle-Adams Commission regarding the use of force in police actions. He was an integral part of the passage of Senate Bill No. 1 in 1985 which allowed Indiana banks to expand beyond the boundaries of their headquartered county. Don was presented the honor of Sagamore of the Wabash by four of Indiana’s governors.

Other civic responsibilities included service as the chairman of the Indiana State Fair Commission, chairman of the Indianapolis Economic Development Corporation, chairman of  the Greater Indianapolis Progress Committee, director of the Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce, director of the Indianapolis Convention and Visitors Association, chairman of the Commission for Downtown, president of The Hundred Club, and life director of the United Way of Central Indiana. He served as a Trustee for the University of Indianapolis, YMCA Foundation of Greater Indianapolis, and Christian Theological Seminary. He was also past chairman of the Finance Committee of the West District, United Methodist Church, and a director of the South Indiana Conference of the United Methodist Church Foundation.

Private funeral services will be held at Pittsboro United Methodist Church on ­­­­­­­Saturday, May 8th, 2021. Burial will take place in the K of P Cemetery in Lizton, IN. Memorial contributions given in lieu of flowers should be made to the Pittsboro United Methodist Church.

Arrangements are entrusted to Eric M.D. Bell Funeral Home in Pittsboro, Indiana.  All are encouraged to share thoughts, prayers, and memories with Don’s family on his memorial page found on the funeral home’s website, . 


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Pittsboro United Methodist Church
PO Box 276, Pittsboro IN 46167
Tel: 1-317-892-4784

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