Indiana takes note of former Governor "Doc" Bowen legacy

Bowen was a doctor when he first entered the world of politics in 1952.
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The funeral for former Indiana Governor Otis "Doc" Bowen will be held this Friday in his hometown of Bremen. He died over the weekend at the age of 95.

Governor Mike Pence is making plans to attend the funeral. Pence will lay a wreath at a public memorial for the former in the Statehouse Rotunda on Wednesday morning. The Indiana State Police and the National Guard will provide an honor guard at the memorial, which will be open to the public during Statehouse hours 8:00 a.m. EDT to 5:00 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, May 8 and Thursday, May 9. Visitors to the memorial may sign a condolences book to pay tribute to the former governor.

Meantime, leaders across the state are marking Bowen's legacy.

Bowen was a doctor when he first entered the world of politics in 1952 and he was still a doctor when he became the state's first two-term governor in modern times twenty years later.

He worked to pass legislation limiting physician liability while protecting patients, but he is best remembered for the Bowen tax cut. He cut property taxes while increasing the sales tax to make up for the lost revenue.

People forget he also initiated the statewide medical air transport system where helicopters are dispatched to transport patients for appropriate treatment.

Recognizing the importance of Indiana's location as the Crossroads of America, he also used state funds to speed up completion of the states interstate highway system.

In 1985, five years after serving two terms as governor, President Ronald Reagan selected him to head up the massive department of Health and Human Services. He was the first physician to do so. After the appointment was announced, he returned to Indiana to reassure his second wife Rose.

Bowen is quoted as saying, "My wife is first in my life, my family second and then my fellow man."

Bowen had four children with his first wife Beth, who died of cancer in 1981. He married Rose Hockstetler in 1981. She died of cancer in 1991. He was then married to Carol Mikesell in 1993.

After his appointment in the Reagan administration, he set out to confront the AIDS crisis and stepped up efforts to educate Americans about the dangers of smoking. In later years it seemed like he was always there. That bedside manner that served him so well in politics was still evident in his later years when he was asked to speak at a medical press conference. He made his point in a very straightforward manner.

"It is an interesting thing. We are a nation of snackers," he said.

He seemed to know us better than we knew ourselves.

Gov. Bowen said delivering babies taught him to approach emergencies and problems with calmness and common sense.

No doubt serving as an Army doctor during WWII also played a role. His service included going ashore with the first waves of allied troops during the invasion of Okinawa in 1945.