|Otis R. "Doc" Bowen passed away Saturday in Donaldson, Indiana. He was 95.|
(Indianapolis, Ind.) - Friends and colleagues are remembering former Indiana Governor Otis Bowen.
Bowen died Saturday at a nursing home in Donaldson, Indiana at the age of 95, according to a Sunday announcement from Governor Mike Pence. A cause of death has not been released.
The former two-term governor served from 1973 to 1981. He is most known for his state tax reform and improvements made to the state parks and recreations system.
"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,” Pence said.
Jack Colwell covered Bowen, a World War II veteran, with the South Bend Tribune. He says everyone called him "Doc" because he was a doctor in Bremen before getting elected to office.
“He acted that way. He never put on a lot of pretenses, even as governor,” Colwell recalled.
Bowen played a national role in the height of the AIDS epidemic. After his time as Governor, Bowen was nominated as the Secretary of Health and Human Services by President Ronald Reagan in 1985. Bowen led the agency until Reagan left office in 1989. He then retired to his hometown.
“He always remembered Bremen, went back to Bremen. In terms of how he lived and how he acted, he never left Bremen at all,” said Colwell.
Former U.S. Senator Richard Lugar worked closely with Bowen during his political career.
"Doc Bowen was the best example of public leader in our state and nation because of his demeanor, intellect, wisdom and range of abilities that brought achievement and success to everything he did," Lugar said. "Whether it was a call from a patient, a constituent, or his country, Doc could not refuse to serve.
Pence has directed that flags at state facilities be lowered to half staff in honor of the state’s 44th governor. The flags will remain at half staff for seven days from Bowen’s passing through Saturday, May 11.
Businesses and residences are also asked to lower their flags.