A Conversation With Doc Bowen - Part I

Many people grumble about growing old, but Doc Bowen finds becoming a nonagenarian music to his ears. Retired for nearly 20 years, Doc reads and writes and loves playing the organ.

Doc says he wanted to be a doctor for as long as he can remember. His private study is a tribute to a life well lived, filled with his favorite things, a picture of his graduating class from Indiana University’s Medical School, the chair he filled as secretary of Health and Human Services under Ronald Reagan, and memories of his family.

Doc recalls wanting to settle in Bremen after graduating from IU. He says, “Bremen had a good school program, a lot of churches, had a great park system and thought, heck this is a place I'll start my practice, So I did and I've never regretted Bremen is a good small town.”

He eventually became county coroner as his interest in state and local government grew. He eventually became a seven time state representative before setting his eyes on a bigger office.

Doc Bowen was the first governor to serve two consecutive four year terms. His popularity was propelled in part by a topic of current interest in Michiana, property taxes.

As governor, Bowen initiated property tax reform. At the time, property taxes were funding two thirds of all money going into education. Bowen decided schools and local governments needed tighter control and residents shouldn’t be penalized for owning a home.

He says, “we were able to get it turned around so that the other taxes were funding about two thirds of the cost of public education. That was very effective and very good for as long as it lasted.”

Bowen says he warned lawmakers about the trouble the current tax system could cause. He believes the property tax cap proposal in front of the legislature now is the best fix. He thinks something has to be done to fix the problem because, “property taxes are so high that there’s a tremendous burden on the elderly who are dependent on social security.”

Now, out of politics and out of medicine, Doc Bowen is still serving and reminiscing on a life well lived.

Doc Bowen still goes to every home Indiana University basketball game, but he’s not making it to Bloomington for tonight’s contest for a good reason. He’s celebrating his 90th birthday with a party at the St. Isidore’s Hall tonight in Bremen with family and friends.

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