SerVaas was a long-time associate of William Casey, one of the best known spies in U.S. history who ran the CIA during the Iran-Contra scandal that rocked the Reagan administration. Casey and SerVaas were among an executive committee of veterans of the OSS who ran the CIA from the shadows according to author Barbara Honneger. SerVaas founded International Investigators, Inc. in Indianapolis in the early 1960s, a private investigate firm that boasted of employing former agents of the CIA and FBI. According to Honneger, SerVaas played a key behind-the-scenes role in the Iran-Contra affair, which included his first son-in-law married to his daughter Joan, a French immigrant by the name of Bernard Marie. In 1992, SerVaas was called to testify before Congress about his role in helping the military build-up of Iraq prior to the first Gulf War. SerVaas testified that he believed a $40 million smelting plant built in Iraq by a company he owned was to be used for non-military purposes, not for producing artillery shells and gun cartridges as turned out to be the case.
SerVaas and his daughter, Joan, came back into the public spotlight during the corruption trial of Ponzi schemer Tim Durham, who was Joan's second husband. SerVaas and his daughter agreed to post a $1 million bond for Durham after he was indicted by federal prosecutors for defrauding small investors in Ohio's Fair Finance Company out of more than $200 million. Durham's political influence in Indianapolis and statewide GOP circles began while he was still married to Joan and helped SerVaas manage businesses that he acquired, including the Carpenter Bus Company. Durham began an independent business career based on SerVaas' successful knack for buying struggling businesses, rebuilding them and then selling them for a profit.
SerVaas, an Eagle Scout, earned degrees from Indiana University in chemistry, Spanish and history. While in his 40s, he returned to school and earned a doctor's degree in medical science. SerVaas was a 1980 Horatio Alger Award winner. "I believe you have to develop a curiosity about the environment in which you live in order to see the opportunities most people don’t see,"SerVaas is quoted by the Horatio Alger Association as saying.
UPDATE: Gov. Mike Pence released the following statement on SerVaas' passing:
“I was deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Dr. Beurt SerVaas, whom I consider a long-time friend. With decades of service to the people of Indiana as a civic, business and philanthropic leader, as well as military service to this great nation, Dr. Beurt SerVaas devoted his life to bettering his community and the lives of all those he served. His legacy will endure for generations to come. On behalf of the state of Indiana, I offer my deepest condolences to all those he held dear as they honor the life of this beloved Hoosier leader.”