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13 WTHR Indianapolis | Indianapolis Local News & Weather

Reactions to the passing of Richard Lugar

Reactions are pouring in from friends, colleagues and political opponents of the late Richard Lugar, who served in the U.S. Senate after two terms as Indianapolis mayor.

INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) - Longtime Indiana Senator Richard Lugar passed away early Sunday in Virginia after a short illness.

The former Indianapolis mayor was 87.

Reactions are pouring in from friends, colleagues and political opponents.

Former Indiana governor and current Purdue University President Mitch Daniels worked directly for Lugar for 14 years, first during his terms as mayor later in Congress, spending more than a decade of that as his chief of staff.

“Words are hard to come by right now. Dick Lugar was not just the finest public servant I will ever know, he was the finest person. He embodied all we can hope for in our leaders: brilliance of mind, purity of motive, stainless in character, tireless in the pursuit of duty. Incomparably knowledgeable about the world, he was first and always a patriot, utterly dedicated to the security and wellbeing of his fellow Americans. His voice is now silent, but he is still with us. Indianapolis is a thriving and vibrant city because of him. The world is safer from nuclear danger because of him. And so many of us, while falling far short of the standards he set, are vastly better people because of him.”

- Mitch Daniels, Purdue President


Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett released a statement Sunday, adding that, in the coming days, a moment of silence and community wreath laying ceremony will be held on the newly-renamed Richard G. Lugar Plaza in Indianapolis.

"Today, Indianapolis mourns the loss of a native Hoosier and American statesman who changed the face of our city and embodied the heart of our nation.
Senator Lugar's career is rightfully characterized by his time in the United States Senate and his outstanding leadership on matters of foreign security and international diplomacy. But he began his public life as a member of the Indianapolis Board of School Commissioners, before becoming a visionary mayor who embraced the transformative potential of local government. He understood that progress could only occur when good ideas and good people came together -- from all sides of the political landscape. And he demonstrated a commitment to country over party, community over self, that is almost unparalleled in today's polarized world.
It is my hope that Senator Lugar's legacy will live on within the highest echelons of public policy as well as the corridors of city-county government. We owe that to him.
Steph and I join the people of Indianapolis in expressing our deepest condolences to Charlene and the Lugar family during this difficult time."

- Joe Hogsett, Indianapolis Mayor



Governor Eric Holcomb offered the following after the passing of former U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar:

“The world weeps alongside Indiana after just learning we lost one of our best, ever. As an always faithful servant to the highest ideals in every walk of his incredible life, Richard Lugar ran the family farm, charted a new innovative course for Indiana’s capital city, and devoted a record six terms as a U.S. Senator to making the world a more prosperous and peaceful place. He was an officer and gentleman, father and faith leader, a Mayor and Senator, a diplomat and legendary role model to millions. Janet and I are keeping Mrs. Lugar and their wonderful family in our prayers and ask all those touched by his service to join us.”

- Eric Holcomb


The University of Indianapolis has a long-standing relationship with Lugar, who served a trustee for many years. UIndy President Robert L. Manuel commented Sunday on Lugar's passing:

"It is with a deep sense of sorrow that we acknowledge the passing of Senator Richard G. Lugar. Our entire University community mourns the loss of the Senator, and we extend our condolences to his family, friends and colleagues.
Like so many in our community, the University of Indianapolis had a long and meaningful relationship with Senator Lugar. He served as a member of our Board of Trustees from 1970 to 2002, and also shaped the youth of Indiana by personally mentoring more than 20,000 young Hoosier leaders over the past 42 years through the Lugar Symposium for Tomorrow’s Leaders at the University of Indianapolis.
We have benefited greatly by his presence on campus over the past 42 years and by his mayoral archives which reside within the University’s Institute for Civic Leadership. In many ways, these records will ensure that his leadership style, approach to public service and impact will be remembered.
Senator Lugar’s life example served as a model for our students. He was a constant reminder that all individual talents should accrue to the benefits of others, and he believed that civic engagement was a cornerstone of a meaningful life and the bedrock of a civil society.
Whether as faculty, board member, special lecturer or graduation speaker, he was a beacon to our community and will be missed.
We will long remember with gratitude Senator Lugar’s passionate advocacy for public service, his visionary leadership and work on behalf of regional, national and global initiatives, and his love for the people in the great state of Indiana."

- Robert L. Manuel, UIndy President

President Lugar's pastor at St. Luke's United Methodist Church in Indianapolis wrote:

“Senator Lugar and his family were founding members of St. Luke’s United Methodist Church. He was not only an outstanding statesman of our country, a great thinker of our time, an ambassador of peace, but he was a great Christian man. We extend our sympathies to his family and give thanks for the loyalty and support Senator Lugar gave to St. Luke’s across our history.”

- Rob Fuquay, Senior Pastor


Indiana Senate President Pro Tempore Roderic Bray:

“Richard Lugar was a giant of Hoosier public service whose tremendous impact on our state and nation will be felt for many years to come. Sen. Lugar was a role model for so many of us because of his commitment to civility and bipartisanship, and his passing is truly a loss for our state and country as a whole. I join the Lugar family and all Hoosiers in mourning the loss of our beloved statesman.”

- Roderic Bray, Indiana Senate President Pro Tem

U.S. Senator Todd Young issued the following statement regarding the passing of Senator Richard Lugar:

“As a boss, a mentor, and a person, Richard Lugar was the gold standard. At a time when nuclear proliferation was civilization’s greatest threat, Senator Lugar helped save the world. He leaves a legacy as an exemplar of wisdom, civility, and bipartisanship. Always staying true to his temperament, he was a quiet, dignified statesman. He thought before he spoke. He emphasized substance over personality. In short, he set the bar for public leaders — and for leaders more generally. I’m not sure we will ever see another Richard Lugar, but I pray that we do. May God watch over him and his family.”

- Todd Young

Attorney General Curtis Hill issued the following statement upon the passing of former U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar:

“Indiana and all America will miss the gentle wisdom of Sen. Dick Lugar. As a public servant, he was a model of civility and statesmanship. We can only hope that new generations of leaders will demonstrate such a combination of character and intellectual capacity.”

- Curtis Hill

Statement from House Speaker Brian Bosma on the passing of former U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar:

“Former U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar was a consummate statesman and respected leader of our city, state and nation. His legacy of bipartisan coalition building and ultimately international arms control will live on for generations. We are beyond grateful for his lifetime of service, and will continue to keep his family in our prayers.”

- Brian Bosma

Congressman André Carson released this statement following the death of former U.S. Senator Richard Lugar:

“I’m extremely saddened by news of the passing of Senator Richard Lugar, a true statesman whose decades of public service left an indelible mark on Indiana, our nation and our world. I’m praying for his loved ones. He was a brilliant scholar, a brave member of our armed forces, and a dedicated public servant who championed people and principle over party. His commitment to good governance and diplomacy, particularly his tireless efforts on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, made our world a better, safer place. He won the respect of people across the political spectrum and earned the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Obama – our nation’s highest civilian honor. In our increasingly divided society, everyone must ensure his legacy lives on by pledging to advance the Hoosier values of bipartisanship and cooperation that defined his life.”

- André Carson

Indiana Commissioner for Higher Education Teresa Lubbers offered the following statement regarding the passing of former U.S. Senator Richard Lugar:

“Like countless other people, I’m struggling with my emotions and sense of loss. There was no one like Dick Lugar, and it’s really hard to imagine the world without him. He never let us down — not the city, state, nation or world. The tributes will be pouring in and he deserves every one of them. I had the privilege to see the Senator and Char about a month ago at an exhibit for his papers — from school board to his current service at the Lugar Center. He was as gracious in manner and insightful in perspective as ever. I was able to tell him — again — that other than my faith and family, nothing has had more of an impact on my life than the inspiration he provided. The sadness I’m experiencing is tempered by the gratitude all of us should feel for his life and selfless service.”

- Teresa Lubbers

Lubbers served as Public Information Officer during Lugar’s last two years as Mayor. She went on to help open his campaign office and was the office manager for his U.S. Senate race. Lubbers served for two years as part of Lugar’s first U.S. Senate staff. She co-founded the Richard G. Lugar Excellence in Public Service Series in 1990, which celebrates its 30th anniversary next year.


Indianapolis Public Schools released this statement:

“Our hearts go out to the family of Senator Richard Lugar. He was a Shortridge High School alum, who also served on the IPS Board of School Commissioners as Board Vice President, and fought for the desegregation of schools and student equity. The state of Indiana has lost a true champion and he will be missed.”

- Indianapolis Public Schools

Congressman Jim Baird released the following statement regarding the passing of former Indiana Senator Richard Lugar:

“Senator Richard Lugar was a statesman to his very core, as he exemplified leadership and civility in his service to Indiana. I join Hoosiers and our nation as we mourn the passing of a truly remarkable public servant. Our prayers go out to the Lugar family and their loved ones.”

- Jim Baird

The Director of National Intelligence, Daniel R. Coats, released this statement on the passing of former U.S. Senator Richard Lugar:

"Senator Richard Lugar was a true statesman whose decency and commitment to public service represented the very best of our state of Indiana and the nation. As both mayor and senator, he demonstrated a unique ability to bring people together and forge coalitions to accomplish big things, particularly in foreign policy. I was honored to serve with Senator Lugar and to call him a friend. Marsha and I extend our deepest condolences to the entire Lugar family."

- Daniel Coats

Indianapolis City-County Council President Osili on the passing of Senator Richard Lugar:

I am saddened to learn today of Senator Lugar’s passing. His life was one of integrity and unshakable commitment to public service, and his legacy—here in Indianapolis and around the world—will be one of bipartisanship and cooperation for the public good.

Senator Lugar has inspired many. As Mayor, he worked to modernize our City’s government to capture economic opportunities for Hoosiers. As Chair of the Armed Forces Committee in the Senate, he envisioned a world without nuclear weapons, working with America’s allies and enemies to bring that world into being. And as a statesman, he championed the idea that a leader’s first responsibility is to apply one’s best judgement without regard to party or partisanship.

His accomplishments aside, I think what we Hoosiers will miss the most about Senator Lugar was the civility and respectfulness that defined not just his career in public service, but his life. We mourn today with Char and their sons the passing not of the legend but of the man himself: Eagle Scout, Navy veteran, Mayor, Senator, scholar, statesman, Hoosier. We are blessed to have called him one of our own.

- City-County Council President Osili

But perhaps no event highlights Lugar's legacy quite like the Fund for Hoosier Excellence. It's an event the Senator loved and made it a priority to attend every year.