Doc Bowen knew how to fix what ailed us
Monday, May 06, 2013 11:00 AM
Otis Bowen's entire life was lived in service to people ... first as a doctor in Bremen, then in the General Assembly before being elected Indiana's 44th governor, and finally as Secretary of Health and Human Services during the Reagan administration.
Doc Bowen in his own words
About the war on drugs, in 1988
"Generally speaking, Mr. President, I prefer optimism to pessimism, as you do," Bowen told Ronald Reagan and three Cabinet colleagues at a meeting of the National Drug Policy Board. "But today, I don't know how I can honestly be very optimistic about the war on drugs.
On AIDS, in 1987
"So, 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."
About AIDS prevention, in 1987
"Abstinence, monogamy and avoidance of drugs are no longer just good morals. Now they are good medical science."
On the use of fetal tissue in 1988
"Inasmuch as abortions are legal, being unable to utilize the tissue ... would result in the waste of a resource that is lifesaving and curing for several diseases. If I had Parkinson's I think I would want some of those (transplanted) cells."
On being elected Indiana House speaker in 1967
"Had I not been elected and not served six years as speaker, I would not have been in position to win election as governor."
But, the mild-mannered Bowen will always be remembered as "Doc," the title he most cherished.
In announcing Bowen's death Saturday, Gov. Mike Pence recalled the former governor's service to the state and nation...
"From his early days in Fulton County where his dreams of practicing medicine were born, to his service in uniform in World War II, Bowen's life would be defined by caregiving and public service. Upon his return from military service, he started a private medical practice in Bremen and began a career in public life that carried him from local office to the General Assembly and on to one of the most consequential governorships of Indiana's second century."
Few were surprised when Bowen closed out his political career and returned to his first passion - medicine - in a tiny town he loved ... Bremen.
Bowen was known for his integrity, and he earned the respect from both sides of aisle at the state and national levels. He was the first governor to serve two consecutive terms since 1851, and he was confirmed by a 93-2 vote to become Secretary of HHS.
Many who knew Bowen share a favorite anecdote. Throughout his political career Bowen kept a prescription pad handy, recommending remedies to cure the common cold and sore throat for both colleagues and members of the press.
Ultimately, Doc Bowen knew that listening and caring about people was the best medicine he could offer.