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Former Gov. Bowen honored in Indiana hometown funeral

The Doc Bowen funeral processiBremen cemetery stops Bowen's home Bremen Ind. Friday May 10 2013. Otis R. Bowen small-town family

The Doc Bowen funeral procession to the Bremen cemetery stops at Bowen's home in Bremen, Ind. Friday May 10, 2013. Otis R. Bowen, a small-town family doctor who overhauled Indiana’s tax system as governor before helping promote safe sex practices in the early years of AIDS as the top federal health official under President Reagan, died Saturday. He was 95. (AP Photo/Joe Raymond)

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BREMEN (AP) — Former Indiana Gov. Otis Bowen, a small-town doctor who became one of the nation’s top health officials, was carried to his waiting grave by a horse-drawn caisson Friday as hundreds of people lined the streets of his northern Indiana hometown.

The private funeral for one of the state’s most popular governors was held at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Bremen. Bowen, who also was the U.S. Health and Human Services secretary during the early days of the AIDS crisis, died Saturday at age 95.

Current Indiana Gov. Mike Pence attended the private ceremony along with former governors Mitch Daniels and Joe Kernan.

Bowen, who was affectionately known as “Doc,” was a family doctor in Bremen for 25 years, during which time he estimated he delivered 3,000 babies — almost as many children as the town has residents.

He became active in Republican politics and was Indiana House speaker before winning elections as governor in 1972 and 1976, during which he overhauled Indiana’s tax system.

Bowen later became the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services secretary in President Ronald Reagan’s cabinet and helped oversee the federal response to the burgeoning AIDS epidemic.

In that role, Bowen stressed educating the public about the dangers of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. Among his efforts was a mailing to 107 million households that he and Surgeon General C. Everett Koop arranged that offered advice about how to avoid contracting HIV, the precursor to AIDS, including the use of condoms.

During a 1987 news conference, Bowen offered what has become oft-repeated safe-sex advice: “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.”

On Sunday, Pence said in a statement: “Governor Otis R. Bowen’s contributions to the life of this state and nation are incalculable, and I mark his passing with a sense of personal loss. His story is as inspiring as it is uniquely Hoosier.



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