“Doc” Bowen was born to Vernie and Pearl (Wright) Bowen in Fulton County, Ind., on Feb. 26, 1918. He graduated from Francesville High School and went on to receive his A.B. in 1939 and M.D. in 1942 from Indiana University.
In 1943, Doc signed up for the Medical Corps of the U.S. Army. He was with the first wave of troops in the invasion of Okinawa and was honorably discharged as a Captain in 1946. After returning from the war, he started his own medical practice in Bremen.
There he raised his four children with his wife, Elizabeth Ann Steinmann, whom he married in 1939. In addition to practicing medicine, Doc served as Marshall County Coroner and made a mark in Republican Party politics.
In 1956, he was elected to the Indiana House of Representatives. He lost a re-election bid to the House by four votes in 1958, but was elected to seven consecutive House terms beginning in 1960. He became Minority Leader in 1965 and Speaker in 1967. He served as Speaker through four legislative sessions (1967, 1969, 1971, and 1972).
After unsuccessfully seeking the Republican nomination for governor in 1968, he was elected as the 44th Governor of the state of Indiana in 1972. That same year, voters ratified a Constitutional Amendment allowing governors to serve consecutive terms. He won re-election in 1976 to become the first governor to serve two consecutive four-year terms.
Doct Bowen was governor from Jan. 8, 1973, through Jan. 12, 1981. After leaving office, he taught as a clinical professor of family medicine at Indiana University.
In 1981, his wife, Beth, passed away. Later, he married Rose May Hochstetler; she died in 1992.
Doc continued to teach at Indiana University until President Ronald Reagan appointed him as Secretary of Health and Human Services. Quickly confirmed by the U.S. Senate, he served in the cabinet until President Reagan left office on Jan. 20, 1989. He then retired to his home town of Bremen.
In 1992, Doc married Carol Hahn. Doc was a member of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Bremen, as well as, the American Medical Association, the American Legion, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Kiwanis International, and many other academic and professional associations.
Of all the awards and accolades Doc Bowen received, he was most proud of the 3,000 plus babies he delivered in Marshall County, Ind.
Dr. Bowen is survived by his wife: Carol, Bremen; four children: Rick (Sandy) Bowen, River Falls, Wisc.; Judy (Dave) McGrew, Richmond, Ky.; Tim (Ann) Bowen, Cornelius, N.C.; and Rob (Patty) Bowen, Bremen; two stepchildren: Vance (Michelle) Flosenzier and Mindy (Ron) Welty; 12 grandchildren; four step-grandchildren; and eight great-grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by his parents; two wives: Elizabeth Bowen and Rose Bowen; three sisters: Esther Plain, Evelyn Amacher and Sarah Jane Scandling; and one brother: Richard Bowen.
Friends may call from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday, May 8, and from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, May 9, at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, 605 S. Center St., Bremen. A funeral service will be held at 11 a.m. Friday, May 10, at the church.
The family would like to acknowledge and thank the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ and the caregivers at CKLC for their loving care and therefore request that memorial contributions be given to Catherine Kasper Life Center, P.O. Box 1, Donaldson, IN 46513.