EDITORIAL: Remember Doc Bowen's Rx for Hoosiers

2013-05-08T00:00:00Z EDITORIAL: Remember Doc Bowen's Rx for Hoosiers nwitimes.com
May 08, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Former Indiana Gov. Otis Bowen should be remembered for his dedication to making a difference in the lives of others.

Bowen, 95, died Saturday.

Gov. Mike Pence plans to lay a wreath in tribute to Bowen this morning at a memorial in the Statehouse rotunda.

Pence encourages Hoosiers from around the state to pay tribute to Bowen by signing condolence books at the Statehouse today and Thursday.

Bowen's portrait and bust are on display so Hoosiers and others can learn more about his career.

"A dynamic leader, Governor Otis R. Bowen made innumerable contributions to the state in the areas of taxes, health care and government administration," Pence said.

A wake for Bowen is being held today and Wednesday at St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Bremen. His funeral is Friday.

Bowen distinguished himself in service at the local, state and national levels, offering a role model for generations of Hoosiers to come.

Doc Bowen, the small-town doctor who occasionally wrote prescriptions for fellow legislators' minor ailments, served as Marshall County coroner, then in the Indiana General Assembly, becoming House speaker. He served as Indiana's governor from 1973 to 1981, ushering in property tax reform and bringing about a statewide emergency medical services system. Both were necessary prescriptions for reform.

Bowen, a Republican, was U.S. Health and Human Service secretary under President Ronald Reagan from 1985 to 1989, in the early years of the AIDS crisis.

Indiana was at the forefront of the AIDS debate because of the worldwide focus on Ryan White, the Kokomo boy who contracted AIDS through a blood transfusion.

Bowen helped promote safe same-sex practices, a controversial move at the time. The Reagan administration had been criticized as slow to respond to the AIDS crisis.

At a 1987 news conference, Bowen offered sage safe-sex advice: "Remember, when a person has sex, they're not just having it with that partner, they're having it with everybody that partner had it with for the past 10 years." That wisdom has been repeated, with good reason, ever since. 

Bowen served his state and his nation well. His commitment to public service should be an inspiration to all.

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