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Bill Oesterle, co-founder of Angie’s List and vocal opponent of RFRA, dies

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Bill Oesterle, the business executive who co-founded Angie’s List, helped elect Mitch Daniels to two terms as governor, and led the business charge against Indiana’s religious objections bill, has died at age 57.

Oesterle died Wednesday morning from complications of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS).

Oesterle became a prominent figure in Indiana politics, beginning his career working at the Hudson Institute for former Governor Robert Orr.

Oesterle also led Mitch Daniels 2004 campaign for governor, an unorthodox campaign that included the candidate touring Indiana in an RV, dubbed RV One.

“I’m not often at a loss for words, but trying to imagine a world without Bill Oesterle leaves me that way,” Daniels said to WISH-TV in a statement. “He was a job creator, a community builder, a lifelong advocate for Indiana and a person with an enormous heart for others. He always said I was the person who persuaded him to return to Indiana: If that is so, it’s the single service I’m most proud of.”  

In 2015, Oesterle led the business charge against the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in Indiana, arguing that it unfairly targeted the LGBTQ community and would keep tech workers from accepting jobs in Indiana.

The business backlash and national outcry forced legislative leaders to make changes to the law.

Oesterle would then found Tech for Equality, a coalition of more than 30 companies to fight for human rights ordinances around the state.

Gov. Eric Holcomb called Oesterle’s death a “devastating loss for his family and loved ones, but also for the state he advocated for to always lean forward.”

“His zeal and zest for life and others was second to none,” Holcomb said in a statement to WISH-TV. “A rare individual who could focus beyond the horizon and on the immediate surroundings equally.”

In business, Oesterle was a co-founder of Angie’s List, a company that referred its members to recommended contractors, service companies and doctors.

Oesterle also committed time and money to revitalizing what he considered neglected areas of Indianapolis, including the Angie’s List campus downtown, the 38th Street Corridor, and other historic buildings.

Funeral arrangements have not been announced.

The family has asked that, in lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation to Friends of 38th Street, a not-for-profit near and dear to Bill’s heart.