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Theodore L. Sendak's first taste of politics came in 1932 when he gave a speech

about President Herbert Hoover to a group of supporters in East Chicago.

He was 14, and from then on, conservative politics strengthened its hold on him.

Mr. Sendak, 80, died of heart failure Friday in Indianapolis, where he had

lived for several years.

He was Indiana attorney general from 1969 to 1981 and was chairman of the Lake

County Republican Central Committee from 1962 to 1970.

Away from politics, Mr. Sendak enjoyed spending time with his family on their

Crown Point farm.

"We enjoyed a rural type of life though we were close to the city," said his

son, Timothy Sendak of Crown Point.

"We had a herd of cows, a horse and crops," he said Monday night. "He enjoyed

the outdoors greatly. That's how he relaxed. But I think he spent about half

his time trying to fix the Ford tractor."

Mr. Sendak suffered a heart attack in 1989 and recovered from a stroke in 1994.

"For the last 15 years, it's been a real struggle, the last two years

especially. My mother has been attending to him almost constantly," Timothy

Sendak said.

Raised in East Chicago, Sendak graduated as valedictorian from Roosevelt High

School and graduated with honors from Harvard University in 1940.

He made a bid in the Republican primary for the Indiana General Assembly in

1940 during his senior year at Harvard. He finished second in a field of four

and joined the staff of The Hammond Times as chief editorial writer after

graduation. He continued writing columns for the newspaper during his service

in World War II and afterward.

After an unsuccessful run for Indiana's 1st District congressional seat in

1948, Mr. Sendak became general manager of the Gary Electric Co.

He graduated from Valparaiso University's law school in 1958 and practiced law

in Crown Point. He continued his military service in the Army Reserves,

retiring with the rank of colonel.

Mr. Sendak ran for state attorney general in 1968 and won, taking office in

1969. He saw the abolishment of the death penalty during his first term, and he

fought vigorously to get it reinstated.

He held numerous professional appointments, including a term as president of

the National Association of Attorneys General in 1977-78. He also was a member

of the Salvation Army's board of directors, Central Indiana District and a

trustee and consultant for Americans for Effective Law Enforcement.

In a February 1998 interview with The Times, Mr. Sendak said that his doctors

always told him, "You know Ted is getting well when he starts teaching

Republican propaganda." The doctor would ask him questions, often about

politics, to make sure he was doing well.

"I gave him both barrels on Clinton," Mr. Sendak recalled.

Eileen Shults, former Crown Point clerk, said she worked on all of Mr. Sendak's

campaigns for attorney general and her family was active in the city and county

Republican organizations at the same time as Mr. Sendak.

"He was a very intelligent man and a compassionate man too," she said. "When

somebody needed something, Ted was there. One thing I think that really showed

(in his character) was his time in the military."

Mr. Sendak is survived by his wife, Tennessee; sons Theodore T. and Timothy,

and daughter Cynthia; seven grandchildren and two brothers. Funeral services

will be Wednesday in Indianapolis.

Times Assistant Business Editor Dan Lee contributed to this story.

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