BY MIKE LEONARD
Guy Loftman smiles after reminiscing about his undergraduate years at Indiana University from 1963 to 1967, when he was a co-founder of the IU chapter of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), an instigator of various protests, and the first student body president elected on a civil rights, anti-Vietnam War, and women’s rights platform.
“Did you consider yourself a radical?” he’s asked.
“Absolutely,” he says. “Still do.”
Loftman has been a prominent name in the IU and Bloomington communities virtually since he arrived from Newark, Delaware, as a freshman. He recalls how powerfully he was affected by the iconic, 1964 Norman Rockwell painting depicting Ruby Bridges, a 6-year-old African-American child, being escorted by four federal agents to integrate into a New Orleans school, the wall behind her bearing a racial epithet and the stains from thrown objects. Loftman also vividly remembers the hateful, racist taunts directed at him by fellow IU students because he wore a button produced by the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) that proclaimed “Black = White.”
“I never got over it,” he acknowledges.
Loftman went on to earn his law degree from IU and has operated a general practice firm since 1975. “I’ve practiced 40 years, I’m turning 70 this August, and (wife and office manager) Connie and I have been here 30 years. Those are all nice, round numbers, a good time to retire,” he explains from an increasingly barren space inside the bright yellow Morgan House at East 10th Street and North Walnut. “Frankly, I think I’m still a really good lawyer, but I don’t know if I will be able to say that at 75. I’d rather quit a day too early than a day too late.”
Active in a variety of socially engaged groups, Democratic Party politics, and the Unitarian Universalist Church, Loftman has been especially involved in the Monroe County Branch NAACP, where he serves on the executive board. He says it is with good reason, given that the 2003 report from the Monroe County Racial Justice Task Force “showed that blacks in Monroe County serve twice the amount of time for misdemeanors and twice the amount of time that whites serve for felonies.”
As for retirement plans — “Our plan is to have no plan,” Loftman says. “No new boards or activities until at least 2017. I plan to write and garden and spend more time watching birds.”