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The Journal Gazette

Wednesday, June 12, 2019 3:10 pm

Bayh biographer to sign books at Green Frog

BRIAN FRANCISCO | The Journal Gazette

Robert Blaemire learned last fall that the publication date for his biography of Birch Bayh would be May 1.

But Bayh died March 14 from pneumonia at age 91 at his Maryland home. By coincidence, a memorial service for the former U.S. senator from Indiana was scheduled at the Statehouse in Indianapolis on the same day as the release of Blaemire's "Birch Bayh: Making a Difference."

"It was almost like Birch went the extra mile to help me sell books," Blaemire said with a laugh during a telephone interview. "I think some people thought that we rushed this biography out, but it was in fact put to bed last fall."

Blaemire, a political consultant from Bethesda, Maryland, and former aide to Bayh, will sign copies of "Birch Bayh: Making a Difference" at 6 p.m. June 20 at the Green Frog Inn in Fort Wayne. His book was published by Indiana University Press.

As a three-term Democratic senator, Bayh authored two constitutional amendments and the law that prohibits gender discrimination in education.

Blaemire, 70, is a native of Lake County who volunteered to work in Bayh's Senate office as a freshman at George Washington University in 1967. He ended up working on Bayh's staff and re-election campaigns for 13 years, and he and Bayh stayed friends until Bayh's death.

Blaemire said he regularly traveled with the Hoosier senator for five months during his 1974 campaign.

"That is a kind of bonding experience that you can't duplicate, and we remained tight," he said.

Blaemire videotaped 30 hours of interviews with Bayh beginning in 2012. Their sessions stretched over more than two years before Blaemire began writing his book.

"It's been a long task – a labor of love," he said. "If it's any good it's because I had such access to him and this long history with him."

Blaemire has been promoting his book recently in Indiana and Washington. He said three Fort Wayne residents who had worked or campaigned for Bayh – City Councilman Geoff Paddock, D-5th, Leigh Smith and Charlie Belch – and Green Frog owner Cindy Henry, the wife of Mayor Tom Henry, arranged his Fort Wayne book-signing appearance. Copies of the book will be available for purchase at the event.

bfrancisco@jg.net