Former Indiana Governor Edgar Whitcomb passes away at 98

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Former Governor Edgar Whitcomb speaks about his World War II experiences while sitting in a rocking chair in front of his Rome, IN, home in 2010. (Kelly Wilkinson/The Star)

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Feb. 4, 2016)– Former Indiana Governor Edgar D. Whitcomb passed away in his Rome, Indiana home Thursday, according to his family.

Governor Mike Pence issued the following statement:

“Governor Ed Whitcomb was a great man whose life of courage, service and adventure inspired generations of Hoosiers and he will be deeply missed. Governor Whitcomb was a treasure to our state and I mark his passing with a sense of personal loss as will thousands of Hoosiers whose lives were touched by this remarkable leader.

“Governor Ed Whitcomb lived an extraordinary life. First called to public service with the outbreak of World War II, he joined the Army Air Corps and served as a B-17 pilot. Following his capture on May 7, 1942, he escaped a prison camp and swam eight miles through shark-infested waters. While he was eventually recaptured, Ed Whitcomb bravely escaped yet again. This harrowing account is told in his book entitled, “Escape from Corregidor.”

“After the war, Ed came home to Indiana, earned a law degree from Indiana University and practiced law for a number of years.  He served as a member of the Indiana State Senate, representing Dearborn, Jennings and Ripley counties. Later in 1966, he was elected to serve as Indiana’s Secretary of State.

“Following his election as Indiana’s 43rd Governor in 1968, Ed Whitcomb led a period of reform and modernization in state government. During his term as governor, Ed Whitcomb led the state of Indiana with common sense and conviction, improving the lives of Hoosiers.

“Ed Whitcomb’s zest for life was evident in each of his 98 years. Following his retirement, Ed began sailing. He undertook voyages across both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, the Mediterranean and beyond. Just a few short years ago, Ed married his beloved Evelyn. Together, they enjoyed a quiet life along the Ohio River in Rome, Indiana.

“Ed Whitcomb served our country, our state and saw the world throughout his incredible life. Yet, in his later years, and for all that he did and saw, Ed knew that nothing could compare to his beloved southern Indiana.

“On behalf of all Hoosiers, Karen and I offer our deepest sympathies and prayers to Governor Ed Whitcomb’s family, his wife Evelyn, his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and all those who knew this good and courageous man. Indiana will never forget or fail to be inspired by the life and example of Governor Edgar D. Whitcomb.”

Governor Pence also directed that flags be flown at half-staff statewide through Thursday, Feb. 11.

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