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Otis Ray Bowen

Gov. Otis Ray Bowen

  • January 9, 1973 - January 13, 1981
  • Republican
  • February 26, 1918
  • May 4, 2013
  • Indiana
  • Indiana University, Indiana University Medical School
  • Married Carol Hahn Mikesell; four children
  • NGA Chair
  • Cabinet secretary
  • Army
  • Physician/Dentist


OTIS RAY BOWEN was born near Rochester, Indiana, on February 26, 1918. He earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry in 1939 and an M.D. degree in 1942, both from Indiana University. After interning at South Bend Memorial Hospital, he was inducted into the U.S. Army. Bowen was part of an advance medical unit that landed on Okinawa just behind the first wave of American invasion troops. After the war, he settled in Bremen, Indiana, where he maintained a medical practice. He served four years as Marshall County coroner, then served in the Indiana House of Representatives, from 1957 to 1958 and from 1961 to 1973. He was Speaker of the House from 1967 to 1973. Bowen was elected Governor of Indiana in 1972 and he was reelected in 1976. During his tenure, Governor Bowen chaired the National Governors’ Association, Republican Governors Association, Midwestern Governors’ Conference, and Education Commission of the States. From 1981-1985, he was Professor of Family Medicine at Indiana University. Governor Bowen chaired the Advisory Commission on Social Security from 1982-1984, and he was named by President Reagan to be Secretary of Health and Human Services from 1985-1989.

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