Bust of Joe Kernan unveiled at Indiana Statehouse

Published: Mar. 17, 2023 at 1:46 PM EDT
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INDIANAPOLIS (WNDU) - Ceremonies at the Indiana Statehouse today honored the late Joseph Kernan in permanent fashion.

Those ceremonies included bagpipes, and the singing of the Irish National Anthem.

It was St. Patrick’s Day, but the late Joseph E. Kernan was the man of the hour, as officials unveiled a bust of the late governor.

“It’s a wonderful thing. It’s a beautiful rendition of Joe, and to have his family here and so many friends is an honor and, it’s so special,” said Joe’s wife Maggie Kernan.

“It only weighs probably about 40 pounds, and it’s life size,” explained the maker of the bust---Artist Ryan Feeney.

It’s a life size depiction of a larger-than-life figure.

Kernan spent just 16-months as governor, following the death of Frank O’Bannon, in 2003, but Kernan spent a lifetime in public service.

He was a naval aviator and prisoner of war. He was a catcher for the Notre Dame baseball team and a savior of South Bend’s minor league franchise.

He was a mayor of South Bend.

He was a Lt. Governor and then Governor of Indiana.

“The great thing about Joe was, he, our parents instilled in us giving back: Being part of something special. Making a difference was so very important,” Joe’s brother Terry Kernan told 16 News Now.

Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb said that there’s a portrait of Kernan hanging in his office like he’s reading over Holcomb’s shoulder and correcting mistakes.

Holcomb hopes the publicly displayed bust will remind everyone to follow in Kernan’s footsteps. “His character was impeccable. His courage, unwavering, and his unrelenting commitment to duty is, again, legendary.”

Joe Kernan passed away in July of 2020, when COVID prevented friends and relatives from gathering. Today brought the perfect chance to finally celebrate Joe Kernan’s life.

The bust was paid for with private donations collected by the Indianapolis Athletic Club Foundation.