Dr. Otis R. Bowen was born February 26, 1918, near Leiters Ford, Ind. He earned a bachelor’s degree (1939) and medical degree (1942) from Indiana University. After completing his residency at South Bend Memorial Hospital, he served in the medical corps of the U.S. Army Air Corp in the Pacific Theater during and after World War II. Upon leaving the service, he established a family medical practice in Bremen and continued the practice until 1972.
Bowen began his political career in 1952, when he was elected Marshall County Coroner. He served as a member of the Indiana House of Representatives from 1956 to 1957 and again from 1960 to 1972. During his time in the house, he served as Minority Leader (1965) and Speaker of the House (1967-1972). Bowen sought the Republican nomination for Governor of Indiana, was elected, and served two terms from 1973 to 1981.
In 1981, Ball State University founded the Bowen Institute on Political Participation in honor of his leadership, personal integrity and advocacy of civic engagement.
In 1985, after his governorship, Otis R. Bowen was confirmed as the 16th Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under then President Ronald Reagan.
He also served on the faculty of the Indiana University School of Medicine and was a member of several community and statewide organizations. In 2000, he published his autobiography Doc: Memories from a Life in Public Service.