"Sen. Anita Bowser (1921-2007)
Kurt Vonnegut has written that it’s the fresh water in Lake Michigan, our great inland sea, that most informs Indiana’s sense of place. That’s a metaphor, of course, fresh water standing for all that’s clear and bright and decent about the character of our state.
It’s also an apt way of thinking about the contributions Democratic state Sen. Anita Bowser, who succumbed to breast cancer Sunday, made to our politics.
Bowser lived on the lake, in Michigan City, where she taught at Purdue North Central. A constitutional scholar, she fought for the principles embodied by that compact, often when doing so was unpopular. Time and again, her positions were vindicated by high court rulings.
A Democrat, Bowser was not only in the minority throughout much of her tenure, but she stood up to protect the rights of those that a self-righteous majority was quick to marginalize, or worse.
Bowser’s many accomplishments include being the first woman to act as House speaker (deputy speaker pro-tempore) in the history of the state, she served as a member of the National Democratic Platform Committee and received numerous honors, including the Louis Ingelhart Award for Freedom of Expression, the Amnesty International Abolitionist of the Year Award and the Robert Dole Owen Legislator Award from the Indiana Civil Liberties Union twice in the 50-year history of the award.
Bowser supported equal rights for all people, regardless of race, religion or sexual orientation and she introduced legislation to ban the execution of the mentally ill and minors. She was first elected to the House in 1980, the Senate in 1992.
To listen to Anita Bowser was to be gladdened, if not astonished, by the good judgment her constituents showed in returning her to office again and again, sharing her with the rest of us.
Memorial services honoring state Sen. Dr. Anita O. Bowser
Wednesday, March 7
3 to 8 p.m. (CST)
Carlisle Funeral Home,
613 Washington St., Michigan City
Thursday, March 8
1 p.m. with one hour visitation prior to the service (CST)
Notre Dame Church,
1010 Moore Road, Michigan City
Thursday, March 8
Immediately following funeral
153 Tilden Ave., Michigan City
The governor has ordered that flags fly at half-mast at the Government Center until after Sen. Bowser's burial.
On Tuesday, March 7, members of the state Senate will take the opportunity to celebrate the life of their colleague here in Indianapolis when the session begins at 1:30 p.m.
The session is open to the public.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorial gifts be made in her honor to the charity of the donor’s choice.