Former Indiana Gov. Kernan dies at 74

By The Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS — Former Indiana Gov. Joe Kernan, a Vietnam prisoner of war who entered politics and was thrust into the state’s top office when his predecessor suffered a deadly stroke, died Wednesday at age 74.

Kernan died at a South Bend health care facility, said Mary Downes, who was his governor's office chief of staff. Kernan was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease several years ago, but his family kept his condition private until disclosing earlier this month that he had lost the ability to speak and was living in a care facility.

Kernan, a Democrat, won three elections as South Bend’s mayor before being elected lieutenant governor with Gov. Frank O’Bannon in 1996 and 2000. Kernan became governor in September 2003 after O’Bannon’s death and served for 16 months before he lost the 2004 election to Republican Mitch Daniels.




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