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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. On a related note, I offered the ICLU my cases against the BLE repeatedly, and sought their amici aid repeatedly as well. Crickets. Usually not even a response. I am guessing they do not do allegations of anti-Christian bias? No matter how glaring? I have posted on other links the amicus brief that did get filed (search this ezine, e.g., Kansas attorney), read the Thomas More Society brief to note what the ACLU ran from like vampires from garlic. An Examiner pledged to advance diversity and inclusion came right out on the record and demanded that I choose Man's law or God's law. I wonder, had I been asked to swear off Allah ... what result then, ICLU? Had I been found of bad character and fitness for advocating sexual deviance, what result then ICLU? Had I been lifetime banned for posting left of center statements denigrating the US Constitution, what result ICLU? Hey, we all know don't we? Rather Biased.

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  4. Gretchen, Asia, Roberto, Tonia, Shannon, Cheri, Nicholas, Sondra, Carey, Laura ... my heart breaks for you, reaching out in a forum in which you are ignored by a professional suffering through both compassion fatigue and the love of filthy lucre. Most if not all of you seek a warm blooded Hoosier attorney unafraid to take on the government and plead that government officials have acted unconstitutionally to try to save a family and/or rescue children in need and/or press individual rights against the Leviathan state. I know an attorney from Kansas who has taken such cases across the country, arguing before half of the federal courts of appeal and presenting cases to the US S.Ct. numerous times seeking cert. Unfortunately, due to his zeal for the constitutional rights of peasants and willingness to confront powerful government bureaucrats seemingly violating the same ... he was denied character and fitness certification to join the Indiana bar, even after he was cleared to sit for, and passed, both the bar exam and ethics exam. And was even admitted to the Indiana federal bar! NOW KNOW THIS .... you will face headwinds and difficulties in locating a zealously motivated Hoosier attorney to face off against powerful government agents who violate the constitution, for those who do so tend to end up as marginalized as Paul Odgen, who was driven from the profession. So beware, many are mere expensive lapdogs, the kind of breed who will gladly take a large retainer, but then fail to press against the status quo and powers that be when told to heel to. It is a common belief among some in Indiana that those attorneys who truly fight the power and rigorously confront corruption often end up, actually or metaphorically, in real life or at least as to their careers, as dead as the late, great Gary Welch. All of that said, I wish you the very best in finding a Hoosier attorney with a fighting spirit to press your rights as far as you can, for you do have rights against government actors, no matter what said actors may tell you otherwise. Attorneys outside the elitist camp are often better fighters that those owing the powers that be for their salaries, corner offices and end of year bonuses. So do not be afraid to retain a green horn or unconnected lawyer, many of them are fine men and woman who are yet untainted by the "unique" Hoosier system.

  5. I am not the John below. He is a journalist and talk show host who knows me through my years working in Kansas government. I did no ask John to post the note below ...

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