Chesterton Tribune

State Sen Anita Bowser dies at 86

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — State Sen. Anita O. Bowser, a constitutional scholar sometimes called “the conscience” of the Senate, died Sunday after a battle with breast cancer.

Senate Democrat spokesman Jason Tomcsi said Bowser, 86, died peacefully in her sleep about 6 a.m. in Indianapolis with a friend at her side. She had been under medical care for the past two weeks, but was released last week to hospice care as her condition worsened.

A Michigan City Democrat, she was first elected to the Indiana House of Representatives in 1980. She was elected to the Senate in 1992, representing LaPorte and St. Joseph counties. Her current term expires in 2008.

State Sen. Earline Rogers, D-Gary, said that even though Bowser’s health was failing, she decided not to return to Michigan City but stayed on in Indianapolis in hopes of finishing out the legislative session.

She had been the ranking Democrat on the Senate Pensions and Labor Committee and was a member of the Judiciary Committee, the Corrections, Criminal and Civil Matters Committee, the Ethics Committee, and Education and Career Development Committee.

Her Democratic colleagues often called Bowser “the conscience” of the Senate for her speeches on behalf of the underprivileged, workers and civil rights.

Bowser made her final speech before the Senate last month, declaring her opposition to a proposal to amend Indiana’s constitution to include a ban on same-sex marriage, Rogers said.

During that Feb. 21 speech, Bowser charged that some senators were afraid to vote against the proposed gay marriage ban for fear of losing their seats in the next election.

“You’re compromising your integrity for a vote,” Bowser said. “Does not your conscience bother you about that?”

Gov. Mitch Daniels said in a statement that he was saddened by the news of Bowser’s death.

“Indiana will miss her leadership, and I will miss her personally,” he said.

A longtime opponent of the death penalty, Bowser sponsored legislation this session that would ban the state from executing the mentally ill. A commission will study Bowser’s proposal this summer.

Bowser earned several degrees, including a bachelor’s degree from Kent State University, a law degree from the McKinley School of Law, a master’s degree from Purdue University and a master’s and doctorate degrees from the University of Notre Dame.

Survivors include one brother, Carl Albu of Asheville, N.C.; one niece and two nephews. Her husband preceded her in death.

Funeral arrangements are pending, but family and friends will gather for visitation and funeral services later this week followed by burial in the Greenwood Cemetery in Michigan City.


Posted 3/5/2007