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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. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  2. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

  3. I will agree with that as soon as law schools stop lying to prospective students about salaries and employment opportunities in the legal profession. There is no defense to the fraudulent numbers first year salaries they post to mislead people into going to law school.

  4. The sad thing is that no fish were thrown overboard The "greenhorn" who had never fished before those 5 days was interrogated for over 4 hours by 5 officers until his statement was illicited, "I don't want to go to prison....." The truth is that these fish were measured frozen off shore and thawed on shore. The FWC (state) officer did not know fish shrink, so the only reason that these fish could be bigger was a swap. There is no difference between a 19 1/2 fish or 19 3/4 fish, short fish is short fish, the ticket was written. In addition the FWC officer testified at trial, he does not measure fish in accordance with federal law. There was a document prepared by the FWC expert that said yes, fish shrink and if these had been measured correctly they averaged over 20 inches (offshore frozen). This was a smoke and mirror prosecution.

  5. I love this, Dave! Many congrats to you! We've come a long way from studying for the bar together! :)

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