INDIANAPOLIS — A memorial service honoring the life and career of Indiana’s former U.S. Senator and House Speaker Birch Bayh (1928-2019) will be held at noon Wednesday, May 1, in the South Atrium of the Statehouse.
Among those remembering Senator Bayh’s accomplishments will be Governor Eric J. Holcomb, House Speaker Brian Bosma, Congressman André Carson, Purdue President Mitch Daniels, former Congressman Baron Hill and Federal District Court Chief Judge Jane E. Magnus-Stinson.
Former Governor and U.S. Senator Evan Bayh and Indianapolis attorney Christopher Bayh will eulogize their father. Former First Lady Susan Bayh will attend, as will their sons Beau and Nick. Katherine “Kitty” Bayh, the widow of Senator Birch Bayh, will read a poem written by her husband.
The service is open to the public. Attendees should enter the Statehouse from either the upper east (Capitol Street) or lower west (Senate Avenue) entrances.
Bayh died on March 14 at the age of 91. He was born Jan. 22, 1928, in Terre Haute and was married in 1952 to Marvella Bayh who died in 1979. He then married Kitty Halpin in 1981.
He was known as the father of Title IX, the equal rights amendment that banned discrimination against women in college sports. He also as the author of the 26th amendment lowering the voting age from 21 to 18.
Bayh was an American politician who served as U.S. Senator from Indiana from 1963 to 1980. He was first elected to office in 1954, when he won election to the Indiana House of Representatives; in 1958, he was elected Speaker, the youngest person to hold that office in the state’s history. In 1962, he ran for the U.S. Senate, narrowly defeating incumbent Republican Homer E. Capehart. Shortly after entering the Senate, he became Chairman of the Subcommittee on Constitutional Amendments, and in that role authored two constitutional amendments: the twenty-fifth—which establishes procedures for an orderly transition of power in the case of the death, disability, or resignation of the President of the United States—and the twenty-sixth, which lowered the voting age to 18 throughout the United States. He is the only non-Founding Father to have authored two constitutional amendments. Bayh also led unsuccessful efforts to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment and eliminate the Electoral College.
Bayh authored Title IX of the Higher Education Act of 1965, which bans gender discrimination in higher education institutions that receive federal funding. He also authored the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act, and co-authored the Bayh–Dole Act, which deals with intellectual property that arises from federal-government-funded research. He led the Senate opposition to Clement Haynsworth and G. Harrold Carswell, two of Richard Nixon’s unsuccessful Supreme Court nominees. Bayh intended to seek the Democratic presidential nomination in 1972, but declined to run after his wife was diagnosed with cancer. He sought the Democratic presidential nomination in 1976, but dropped out of the campaign after disappointing finishes in the first set of primaries and caucuses.
Bayh won re-election in 1968 and 1974, but lost his 1980 bid for a fourth term to Dan Quayle. After leaving the Senate, he remained active in the political and legal world. His son, Evan Bayh, served as the 46th Governor of Indiana and held his father’s former U.S. Senate seat from 1999 to 2011.
“Birch Bayh was a trailblazer who dedicated himself to improving the lives of all Hoosiers. His remarkable legislative and personal legacy transformed the country and will live on for years to come. I ask Hoosiers around the state to join me and Janet in honoring his incredible service and by keeping the Bayh family in your thoughts and prayers,” stated Gov. Eric J. Holcomb.
U.S. Sen. Todd Young issued this statement, “Birch Bayh is a modern-day founding father. He used his tenure in the Senate to push for substantive and substantial change, including two constitutional amendments and the passage of Title IX. While we remember his legacy, my thoughts and prayers are with the entire Bayh family.”
“Birch Bayh was a true statesman who dedicated his life to public service. Generations of Hoosiers have felt the impact of his bold leadership, and he has left an incredible legacy for our state and nation. Dean and I will keep the Bayh family in our prayers,” stated U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski.
Holcomb had directed flags throughout the state to be flown at half-staff to honor Bayh from March 14 until sunset on the day of his funeral.