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Elections & Politics

Hoosiers Reflect On Life, Legacy Of Former US Senator Lugar

Zach Herndon

Long-time Indiana Senator Richard Lugar is being remembered as a giant in Indiana politics. The Republican died Sunday at the age of 87.

Lugar served two terms as mayor of Indianapolis before joining the senate in 1977. He served until 2013.

Along with Democratic Senator Sam Nunn he led the effort to help the former Soviet states dismantle their weapons of mass destruction and nuclear arsenals.

Lugars’s longtime colleague and friend former Indiana Democratic Congressman Lee Hamilton says Lugar was known for his commitment to bipartisanship.

“The Congress has become much more hyper partisan, polarized, and the example that Dick Lugar set in working across the aisle needs to be elevated,”  he says. 

Hamilton says he grew to know Sen. Lugar both professionally and personally over nearly 7 decades, identifying him as a model statesman.

“Approachable. Accessible. Those are all very common traits of Indiana that he brought to the table and I think had a worldwide impact," Hamilton says. 

In a statement released Sunday, Purdue president Mitch Daniels reflects on the passing of Sen. Lugar. Daniels worked closely with Lugar for 14 years first during his mayoralty and then as Senator and more than a decade of that as his chief of staff. 

"Indianapolis is a thriving and vibrant city because of him.  The world is safer from nuclear danger because of him. And so many of us, while falling far short of the standards he set, are vastly better people because of him,” he says.

Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb also directed flags across the state to be flown at half-staff in honor of the former U.S. Senator.

Lou Gerig served alongside Former Sen. Lugar as his press secretary from 1977 to 1981. He says Lugar’s legacy will be remembered best by his kindness towards others.

“Not only was he brilliant, but he was caring. And you always wanted to do your best for Senator Lugar and he never got mad at you. You always just felt that you knew he was doing his best,” he says.

In October 2018, Indiana Univeristy renamed its School of Global and International Studies to the Lee H. Hamilton and Richard G. Lugar School of Global International Studies, in honor of Indiana’s longest serving public servants.