Friday, July 3, 2015

In Memoriam: "Go Get 'Em" Wayne Townsend (1926-2015)

Wayne Townsend
We've lost a great man.

Former State Representative, State Senator and Democratic candidate for Governor, Wayne Townsend, has passed.

Elected to the Indiana House in 1958, Townsend eventually was elected to the Senate. Famously, Townsend changed his vote to break a 25-25 deadlock that allowed the Equal Rights Amendment to pass the General Assembly.  Townsend also known for his great run in 1984 that nearly unseated incumbent Governor Robert D. Orr.  His campaign featured the infectious slogan, "Go get 'em Wayne!"

In a four-way race and in a state Ronald Reagan carried handily, Townsend lost 52-47 percent to Orr.

Matt Tully writes a great tribute to him here in the Indianapolis Star.  He had done a longer tribute to Townsend in January.

Mr. Townsend was a lifelong farmer who was also long involved with his alma mater, Purdue University, as a trustee.  Before that, he was a trustee at Earlham College.  He was a veteran of the Korean War.

I never had the chance to meet, Mr. Townsend, but I know many that did.  Uniformly, they've talked about a warm man that was easy to talk to and get to know.

Wayne Townsend is gone at the age of 88.

Joe Hogsett responded to Townsend's death by releasing this statement:
“Wayne was a tireless champion for working families across our state, and I am saddened to learn of his passing. His legacy of leadership will live on through the generations who have sought to follow in his footsteps and work to give every Hoosier a shot at the American Dream. My thoughts are with his wife, Helen, and the entire Townsend family.”

John Gregg posted on his Gubernatorial Campaign Faceook page:
"Sad news. Wayne was a forward thinking leader who made a real difference. I will miss him. RIP my friend."

Purdue President Mitch Daniels also responded (to Matt Tully in the Star):
"Indiana just lost a great citizen and one of our greatest Boilermakers.  On behalf of the entire Purdue family, I offer condolences to the Townsend family and sincere thanks for a lifetime of unsurpassed service."

Indiana Democratic Party Chair John Zody said:
"On behalf of the Indiana Democratic Party, we all mourn the passing of Wayne Townsend. As a longtime state legislator, Sen. Townsend fought for what he knew could be a better state and nation. Whether it was equal rights, education, agriculture or sticking up for working families, Wayne Townsend was a quintessential Hoosier leader through-and-through. And although he was our Party’s standard-bearer for governor in 1984, he led by example during his entire career in politics - and for the rest of his life. He was a legend, and we will all miss him. We send our heartfelt condolences to Helen and all of Wayne’s family and loved ones."
Former Senate Minority Leader Vi Simpson said on her Facebook page:
Many memories and many stories of Senator Townsend. Bill and I extend our thoughts and prayers to Mrs. Townsend and Wayne's family members. RIP Wayne.

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