Former Governor Otis Bowen Dies (VIDEO)

By Peter Neumann
By Kevin Kitt
By Rachel Martin

May 5, 2013 Updated Nov 5, 2013 at 8:12 PM EDT

BREMEN, Ind. (www.incnow.tv) – Former Indiana Governor and life-long public servant Dr. Otis Bowen has passed away.

Affectionately known as "Doc," Otis R. Bowen was born Feb. 26, 1918, and served as Indiana’s 44th governor from 1973 to 1981. He was the first to serve two terms since 1851.He died Saturday night in Donaldson, Ind. He was 95 years old.

By all accounts, Bowen's style as a small town physician endeared him to the people of Indiana, and made him an effective and beloved leader.

Before becoming Governor, Bowen was a doctor in his hometown of Bremen, Ind. And was a clinical professor at Indiana University. During that time he was elected to the Indiana House of Representatives and was Speaker of the House.

Later, he was nominated by President Ronald Regan himself to serve as the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services.

In light of Bowen’s death, Governor Mike Pence released this statement:

"Governor Otis R. Bowen's contributions to the life of this state and nation are incalculable, and I mark his passing with a sense of personal loss. His story is as inspiring as it is uniquely Hoosier.

From his early days in Fulton County where his dreams of practicing medicine were born, to his service in uniform in World War II, "Doc" Bowen's life would be defined by caregiving and public service. Upon his return from military service, he started a private medical practice in Bremen and began a career in public life that carried him from local office to the General Assembly and on to one of the most consequential governorships of Indiana's second century.

As the first governor since 1851 to serve two consecutive terms in the office, our 44th governor led Indiana through a season of reform in taxes, healthcare, and government administration. Governor Bowen also advanced historic improvements to our state park and recreation system, helping to create five new state parks including the first urban park in Indiana.

After leaving office, "Doc" Bowen returned to medicine as a professor at the Indiana University Medical Center, but in 1985, this extraordinary Hoosier would be called, once again, to public service when President Ronald Reagan nominated him to be the Secretary of Health and Human Services. Secretary Bowen would lead that government agency until January 20, 1989, when President Reagan left office. Coming full circle, "Doc" Bowen returned to Bremen, Indiana where it all began.

Throughout his life, Governor Bowen's career was characterized by integrity, devotion to family, and love for Indiana. The debt this state owes to Governor Otis R. Bowen can only be repaid by relentless imitation of his example.

Karen and I send our deepest sympathies and prayers to his family, his wife Carol, and to his children and grandchildren during this difficult time. God bless you, Doc. Your caring work as a physician, your service, and your leadership left Indiana and our nation better for you having been here. You will be missed and your contributions to Indiana will be remembered always."

The popular former Republican Governor was known for improving the Indiana State parks system as well as healthcare and promoting AIDS awareness nationwide. But perhaps Bowen’s biggest impact on the Hoosier state was through his ideas on tax reform.

Indiana Senate President Pro Tem. David Long describes "Doc" as a "relentless warrior" on property taxes, making it easier for Hoosier farmers to cope and flourish.

Long says Bowen’s tax reform carried on through Governor Mitch Daniels' reform where his ideas played an influential part.

Long describes Doc Bowen as a "beloved Hoosier", and although from the small town of Bremen, he had large ideas and a sharp mind.

"He'll always be loved for the fact that he never forgot his roots and he had a lot of humility. But he was a very smart man, accomplished a great deal in his lifetime, and again someone we can all respect and admire. I certainly did."

Otis R. Bowen leaves behind his wife, children and grandchildren.

The cause of his death has not been disclosed.

Governor Mike Pence has ordered that all flags be flown at half-staff through May 11, in Bowen’s honor.

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