Leaders of the Indiana General Assembly expressed their sorrow for the passing of former Indiana Gov. Otis Ray Bowen.
The Fulton County native died May 4 at age 95 at the Catherine Kasper Life Center in Donaldson.
Bowen earned his medical degree from Indiana University in 1942 and joined the Medical Corps of the U.S. Army in 1943. After World War II, he settled in Bremen and started his own medical practice.
Bowen was first elected to the Indiana House of Representatives in 1956. He lost his bid for re-election by four votes in 1958 but was able to regain his seat in 1960. Serving for seven consecutive terms, Bowen became minority leader in 1965 and speaker of the house in 1967.
He was elected as governor in 1972 and won re-election in 1976. After he finished his second term as governor, President Ronald Reagan tapped him to serve as Secretary of Health and Human Services. Bowen held this post until Reagan left office on Jan. 20, 1989.
Indiana Senate President Pro Tem David Long, R-Fort Wayne, described Bowen as an “iconic Hoosier leader” who had many memorable accomplishments as governor but never forgot his small town roots.
“He was a great man, he was a humble man and he was a Hoosier through and through,” Long said. “There will never be another one like him.”
Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, said Bowen served the state and the country with integrity, honor and a constant caring physician’s touch.
“As speaker of the house, as governor and as the secretary of the Health and Human Services, he was always ‘Doc Bowen,’ a man who understood and represented common folks,” Bosma said. “He will be missed but his was certainly a life well lived.”
Gov. Mike Pence has directed flags at state facilities be flown at half-staff through May 11 as a tribute to Bowen.