The Herald Bulletin
Former Indiana Gov. Otis Bowen, who will be laid to rest Friday in his hometown of Bremen, was quintessentially Hoosier.
Born in 1918 in Richland Center, he was raised in northern Indiana and earned his bachelor’s and medical degrees at Indiana University. After an internship in South Bend, he established a family medical practice in Bremen that remained open through 1971.
His political career traced an arc from Marshall County coroner, to state representative, to minority speaker and speaker of the House in the Indiana General Assembly. In 1972, Bowen was elected as Indiana’s 44th governor.
Later, after retirement from politics, Bowen would serve on the faculty of the Indiana University School of Medicine. He eventually retired to Bremen. Bowen died Saturday in Donaldson at the age of 95.
Other than service as a medic in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II and a stint in the Reagan administration as secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Bowen did the vast majority of his work in medical and public service in Indiana.
Millions of Hoosiers knew him as “Doc,” and he was embraced by Indiana residents as one of their own. His conservative, practical approach to politics and governing resonated with fellow Hoosiers, so much so that in 1976 he easily won re-election, a feat that hadn’t been accomplished since Joseph Wright captured a second term as Indiana governor all the way back in 1852.
Perhaps Bowen’s most enduring gubernatorial legacy is state tax code reform. True to his Republican roots, he oversaw a shift from reliance on property taxes to an emphasis on sales taxes.
It is fitting that Otis Bowen, a quintessential Hoosier, will be returned to the Indiana soil where his roots run so deep.