Former U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar, 87, died early Sunday, April 28. He was born on April 4, 1932, in Indianapolis to Marvin and Bertha Lugar. He married Charlene Smeltzer in 1968.
He served as Indiana U.S. Senator from 1977 to 2013.
Lugar was a graduate of Denison University and Oxford University. He served on the Indianapolis Board of School Commissioners from 1964 to 1967 before he was elected to two terms as Mayor of Indianapolis, serving from 1968 to 1976. During his tenure as Mayor, Lugar served as the President of the National League of Cities in 1971 and gave the keynote address at the 1972 Republican National Convention.
During Lugar’s tenure, he served as Chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations from 1985 to 1987 and from 2003 to 2007, serving as the ranking member of the committee from 2007 until his departure in 2013. Lugar also twice served as Chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, from 1995 to 2001 and briefly again in part of 2001. Much of Lugar’s work in the Senate was toward the dismantling of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons around the world, co-sponsoring his most notable piece of legislation with Georgia Democrat Sam Nunn: the Nunn–Lugar Act.
He was also the longest-serving senator in Indiana’s history and until leaving office was the most senior Republican member of the Senate.
Following his service in the Senate, Lugar created a nonprofit organization which specializes in the policy areas he pursued while in office. The Lugar Center focuses on global food security, the nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction, foreign aid effectiveness, and effective bipartisan governance. Located in Washington, D.C., the nonpartisan Center works with academics, experts, and policymakers in order to create proposals for these 21st century issues. The Center works to highlight these specific topics and their implications, as well as educating the public on them. Lugar was also a member of Partnership for a Secure America’s bipartisan Advisory Board.
Gov. Eric J. Holcomb is directing flags across the state to be flown at half-staff to honor Lugar. Flags should be flown at half-staff from Sunday until sunset on the day of his funeral, which has not yet been announced. Holcomb also asks businesses and residents to lower their flags to half-staff as well.
Statements From State Leaders
“The world weeps alongside Indiana after just learning we lost one of our best, ever, ” said Holcomb. “As an always faithful servant to the highest ideals in every walk of his incredible life, Richard Lugar ran the family farm, charted a new innovative course for Indiana’s capital city, and devoted a record six terms as a U.S. Senator to making the world a more prosperous and peaceful place.
“He was an officer and gentleman, father and faith leader, a Mayor and Senator, a diplomat and legendary role model to millions.
“Janet and I are keeping Mrs. Lugar and their wonderful family in our prayers and ask all those touched by his service to join us.”
U.S. Sen. Todd Young stated “As a boss, a mentor, and a person, Richard Lugar was the gold standard. At a time when nuclear proliferation was civilization’s greatest threat, Senator Lugar helped save the world. He leaves a legacy as an exemplar of wisdom, civility, and bipartisanship. Always staying true to his temperament, he was a quiet, dignified statesman. He thought before he spoke. He emphasized substance over personality. In short, he set the bar for public leaders — and for leaders more generally. I’m not sure we will ever see another Richard Lugar, but I pray that we do. May God watch over him and his family.”
“Dick Lugar is a giant in the hearts and minds of Hoosiers and all who served with him during his career in public service and record-setting tenure in the Senate.” said U.S. Rep. Jim Banks. “His selfless service and tireless advocacy on behalf of the state and nation we both love inspired many to follow his footsteps into public service. I had the privilege to spend a fair amount of time with him since being elected to Congress and will treasure the counsel and encouragement he provided. The world is a better place because of Sen. Lugar and he will be missed immensely. Amanda and I send our prayers and condolences to the Lugar family, and all those who are mourning his loss.”
U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski stated, “Senator Richard Lugar was a Hoosier statesman without equal who worked tirelessly for peace, prosperity, and freedom at home and abroad. His wisdom, bipartisanship, and commitment to American ideals made our country stronger and the world safer. We mourn his loss, but we know his legacy will endure in those who follow his example of servant leadership. Dean and I join all Hoosiers praying for the Lugar family.”
Also offering words in Lugar’s honor was Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill. “Indiana and all America will miss the gentle wisdom of Sen. Dick Lugar. As a public servant, he was a model of civility and statesmanship. We can only hope that new generations of leaders will demonstrate such a combination of character and intellectual capacity.”
Indiana GOP Chairman Pete Seat stated “Today as Hoosiers and Americans, we mourn the loss of Richard Lugar, the ultimate statesman who leaves an immeasurable impact on the city of Indianapolis, the state of Indiana, our nation and our globe.
“Lugar was a Hoosier who dedicated his life to making the world a better a place, starting in his own hometown by ushering in a new era of modern government for Indianapolis. He brought new life to Indiana’s capital city, with a visionary approach that catalyzed new growth and opportunity for the region.
“But Richard Lugar’s impact is felt by all Americans and all people who are safe today because of his commitment to security and nuclear disarmament during the Cold War. As a U.S. Senator, Richard Lugar reduced the threat of nuclear weapons in the former Soviet Union through the Nunn-Lugar Act. His leadership in foreign relations was unparalleled.
“Serving Hoosiers for nearly four decades — the longest serving U.S. Senator in Indiana’s history — when Richard Lugar spoke, you listened. His words carried immense weight and were always backed with knowledge and insight.
“Outside the Senate, Richard Lugar is also responsible for inspiring generations of Hoosier and American leaders who follow him. In particular, his leadership in helping get more women involved in public service through the Richard G. Lugar Excellence in Public Service Series is a legacy that will continue here in Indiana as more than 2,000 women have now completed the program.
“Through it all, Richard Lugar led with a humble spirit that represented our state and our people with honor. He was a farmer, a mayor, a senator, a visionary, a leader, but most importantly, a Hoosier. We express our deepest condolences to Char and his family, and we thank them for sharing Richard Lugar with the world.”