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Former Indiana Governor Bowen, 95, passes away Saturday evening


By Makenzie Holland



Former Indiana Governor Otis “Doc” Bowen, who served as a member of former President Ronald Reagan’s cabinet and as a family doctor, died Saturday evening in Donaldson, Ind., about 25 miles south of South Bend and near Bowen’s hometown of Bremen, Ind. He was 95 years old.

Governor Mike Pence is directing flags at state facilities to be flown at half-staff in Bowen’s honor until May 11.

Bowen, a lifelong IU basketball and football fan who regularly attended games as his health allowed had numerous ties to the University, according to a press release,

In 1939, he earned bachelor’s degrees in anatomy and physiology from IU. In 1942, he graduated from the IU School of Medicine and in 1971 he was presented with the IU School of Medicine’s Distinguished Alumni Award, according to the release.

Bowen became a clinical professor of family medicine in 1981 after serving two terms as the 44th Governor of Indiana from 1973 to 1981.

In 1985, Bowen was confirmed as the 16th secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under then President Ronald Reagan. 

IU President Michael A. McRobbie issued a statement on the death of Bowen.

“Doc Bowen was a healer, a leader and a wonderful representative of Indiana University, both as a student and throughout his career as a physician, educator and political leader,” McRobbie said in the press release. “He was an extraordinarily impressive man who leaves behind a legacy of immense accomplishment that will be felt across Indiana and the nation for decades to come.”

McRobbie said, in addition to being one of Indiana’s legendary governors, Doc Bowen was also a strong Speaker of the House in the Indiana General Assembly, a key member of President Reagan’s cabinet and a dedicated and compassionate family doctor.

“While I am deeply saddened by his passing, I feel fortunate to have known a man of such great integrity and unquestioned character,” McRobbie said in his statement.

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