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Purdue Alum, Gubernatorial Nominee Townsend Passes Away

Jim Grey

Wayne Townsend, the Democratic nominee for Indiana governor in 1984, has died at age 89.

Townsend was elected to the state Senate in 1976 and served two terms -- in his first year in the Senate, he cast the deciding vote to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment.

The Hartford City Democrat challenged Republican Governor Bob Orr in 1984 -- in the year of President Reagan‘s 49-state landslide, he lost by five points.

After leaving elected office, Townsend served 15 years as a Purdue Trustee. Townsend graduated from the school’s College of Agriculture in 1951 and last year was awarded the university’s highest honor, the Order of the Griffin, by President Mitch Daniels.

“Indiana just lost a great citizen and one of our greatest Boilermakers,” Daniels says in a statement. A statement from Indiana Democratic Party President John Zody calls Townsend “a quintessential Hoosier leader through-and-through” and says he “fought for what he knew could be a better state and nation.”

Townsend had been suffering from a rare heart ailment.