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The Journal Gazette

  • Former U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar's casket sits in the Statehouse rotunda Tuesday. Lugar's funeral is today. (Niki Kelly | The Journal Gazette)

Wednesday, May 15, 2019 1:00 am

Final respects paid to Lugar

Former US senator's funeral set for today

NIKI KELLY | The Journal Gazette

INDIANAPOLIS – Hundreds of mourners trooped to the Indiana Statehouse on Tuesday to thank former U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar one final time.  

Lugar's casket sat in the rotunda, draped with an American flag and flanked by two flower arrangements. Members of an honor guard stood watch nearby. 

“He's a family friend and I used to live across the street from him,” Kathy Simonson of Indianapolis said. She recalled jumping off a swing and breaking her arm in first grade and it was Lugar who drove her and her mother to get X-rays.

Simonson said she wanted to pay her respects in person – especially after Lugar's wife, Charlene, sent her a handwritten note when she lost her mother. 

Lugar died April 28 in Virginia from complications related to a rare neurological disorder.

He was mayor of Indianapolis for two terms and served as U.S. senator for 36 years. He is most known for his soft-spoken demeanor, bipartisan cooperation and helping to disarm the former Soviet states after the Cold War. 

“As we gather to say goodbye, our job is to carry this torch that this mighty man lit,” Gov. Eric Holcomb said. 

Holcomb and Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett spoke at a brief ceremony after the casket was wheeled into the Statehouse. A portrait of Lugar as well as a memorabilia were on display as dozens of family members wept and accepted condolences. Lugar's funeral is today in Indianapolis. 

“It's an honor to welcome Sen. Lugar back home again to Indiana, where it all began,” Holcomb said. “Here to the city he modernized, to the state he devoted his entire life to.”

Hogsett said Lugar “fought hatred, he did not court it” and said he knew that doing what is right for so long would be costly. But he stayed the course. 

This was a reference to him losing the 2012 GOP primary to Richard Mourdock, who then lost in the general election to Joe Donnelly. 

Lugar “belongs to the ages and the angels,” Hogsett said. 

Some of those that went through the line to pay their respects weren't Hoosiers but knew Lugar was a good man. 

“It's my honor to be here,” said Moses Lopez, a flight attendant from California who just happened to be visiting the Statehouse when the rotunda was opened to visitors after the ceremony. “I'm learning a lot about him today.”

nkelly@jg.net