Indiana Senate honors state's oldest former legislator

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Teacher, lawyer, businessman, farmer, statesman – Elmer Hoehn has held many titles in his life. In 1945, Clark County voters elected him to serve in the Indiana Legislature. He served two terms as state representative before becoming an oil and gas expert – first at the state level as the director of the Indiana Natural Resources Division of Oil and Gas, and later for the administration of President Lyndon B. Johnson.

This month, Hoehn, now 95, returned to the building where his political career began to make remarks at an event in his honor.

hoehn With his son, grandson, and friend behind him, Elmer Hoehn makes remarks at a Senate presentation in his honor on April 7. Hoehn, 95, is Indiana’s oldest former legislator. (IBJ Photo/ Perry Reichanadter)

On April 7, Sen. Jim Smith, R-Charlestown, introduced Senate Resolution 74, honoring Hoehn for his life’s work. Smith talked about Hoehn’s role as federal administrator of the U.S. Oil Import Administration. He said President Johnson publicly praised Hoehn for his work in getting oil to England and France during Egypt’s 1967 blockade of the Suez Canal. Smith mentioned many other highlights from Hoehn’s long career before the 45 senators present voted to adopt the resolution. Surrounded by his family and friends, Hoehn spoke at the podium.

“I’m very happy and pleased to be here, “Hoehn said. Reflecting on his time in the Legislature, he told the Senate, “It was one of the great experiences of my life.”

Indiana Sen. Richard D. Young, D-Milltown, told the Senate he had known Hoehn for years, as the two had worked together on projects in Southern Indiana.

“I think we could recognize him for community involvement,” Young said, adding that he had been previously unaware of all of Hoehn’s earlier accomplishments.

Sen. Richard Bray, R-Martinsville, said, “Listening to his lifelong achievements … it’s a history lesson for all of us.”

Before the ceremony began, Hoehn, standing in the hall outside the Senate chambers, talked about how different the Statehouse looks now, compared to six decades ago. He said back then, lawmakers worried they might be crushed by falling chandeliers that dangled precariously from frayed cables.

“There was a great big chunk of plaster that came loose and fell on the floor,” Hoehn recalled. By 1948, the state had fixed the faulty wiring and many other neglected areas of the Statehouse as part of a massive remodeling project.

Hoehn’s friend, Clark Circuit Court Judge Daniel Moore, came to the Statehouse for the presentation. Moore said he invites Hoehn to serve as bailiff in his courtroom, and that Hoehn drives to the courthouse and listens to cases, some that last up to three days.

Moore said Smith approached him with the idea of honoring Hoehn. “And I became the go-between – the organizer – and I’m happy to do it,” he said.

Hoehn earned his Master of Business Administration degree from Northwestern University in 1937 and his law degree from University of Louisville Brandeis School of Law in 1940. He is a member of the Indiana and Kentucky bars, and is a former member of the District of Columbia Bar, where he kept a law office for 22 years.

Hoehn was a charter member of the Ohio River Greenway Commission and a benefactor of the George Rogers Clark homestead cabin. He and his wife, Frances, were chief benefactors of the Clark Memorial Hospital Interfaith Centre. Frances died last year at the age of 100.•


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  1. This is ridiculous. Most JDs not practicing law don't know squat to justify calling themselves a lawyer. Maybe they should try visiting the inside of a courtroom before they go around calling themselves lawyers. This kind of promotional BS just increases the volume of people with JDs that are underqualified thereby dragging all the rest of us down likewise.

  2. I think it is safe to say that those Hoosier's with the most confidence in the Indiana judicial system are those Hoosier's who have never had the displeasure of dealing with the Hoosier court system.

  3. I have an open CHINS case I failed a urine screen I have since got clean completed IOP classes now in after care passed home inspection my x sister in law has my children I still don't even have unsupervised when I have been clean for over 4 months my x sister wants to keep the lids for good n has my case working with her I just discovered n have proof that at one of my hearing dcs case worker stated in court to the judge that a screen was dirty which caused me not to have unsupervised this was at the beginning two weeks after my initial screen I thought the weed could have still been in my system was upset because they were suppose to check levels n see if it was going down since this was only a few weeks after initial instead they said dirty I recently requested all of my screens from redwood because I take prescriptions that will show up n I was having my doctor look at levels to verify that matched what I was prescripted because dcs case worker accused me of abuseing when I got my screens I found out that screen I took that dcs case worker stated in court to judge that caused me to not get granted unsupervised was actually negative what can I do about this this is a serious issue saying a parent failed a screen in court to judge when they didn't please advise

  4. I have a degree at law, recent MS in regulatory studies. Licensed in KS, admitted b4 S& 7th circuit, but not to Indiana bar due to political correctness. Blacklisted, nearly unemployable due to hostile state action. Big Idea: Headwinds can overcome, esp for those not within the contours of the bell curve, the Lego Movie happiness set forth above. That said, even without the blacklisting for holding ideas unacceptable to the Glorious State, I think the idea presented above that a law degree open many vistas other than being a galley slave to elitist lawyers is pretty much laughable. (Did the law professors of Indiana pay for this to be published?)

  5. Joe, you might want to do some reading on the fate of Hoosier whistleblowers before you get your expectations raised up.