Former Governor Otis Bowen Dies
Former Indiana Governor and physician Otis R. Bowen died on Saturday. He was 95. He was the 44th Governor of Indiana, serving from 1973 to 1981. He served as the Secretary of Health and Human Services in the Ronald Reagan administration from 1985 until 1989.
Governor Mike Pence called for all flags to fly at half-staff across the state through Saturday. He also issued a statement about the passing of Bowen:
“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 funeral for former Indiana Governor Otis “Doc” Bowen will be held Friday in his hometown of Bremen.