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Birch Bayh dead at 91; leaves mark on Fort Wayne leaders

INDIANA (Fort Wayne’s NBC) – Hoosiers are mourning the loss of a legend in Indiana politics.

Former U.S. Senator Birch Bayh died Thursday morning, more than half a century after first serving on Capitol Hill.

He was the father of former Hoosier governor and senator Evan Bayh.

But Birch Bayh’s own record touched lives in ways that almost no politician before or after can match.

He represented Indiana in the U.S. Senate from 1963 to 1980, and authored two constitutional amendments, the only lawmaker to do that since the Founding Fathers.

One was the 25th Amendment, following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

It laid out procedures for replacing the president in the event of death, removal, resignation or incapacitation.

He also pushed through the 26th Amendment, lowering the voting age from 21 to 18.

Fort Wayne’s mayor was very young when he met Birch Bayh, considering him a role model.

“That exposure to Birch and his character and his ideals, I’m not so sure it didn’t set the foundation for my own conviction of public service,” said Democrat mayor Tom Henry.

Bayh’s work also spawned the landmark 1972 Title IX legislation that gave women new opportunities in sports and academics.

Democrat Fort Wayne city councilman Geoff Paddock recalls how he and a college friend traveled to Iowa in 1976, to volunteer in the unsuccessful Birch Bayh for president campaign.

“We stood out in the cold at 5:30 in the morning, at plant gates to pass out Birch Bayh literature, because we believed in him, he was an outstanding man,” Paddock said.

Birch Bayh, dead at the age of 91.

Governor Eric Holcomb has ordered flags to be flown at half-staff in honor of Bayh until his funeral services, which at the time of this report, had not yet been scheduled.


Jeff Neumeyer

Jeff Neumeyer is a reporter for WPTA.

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