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TELL CITY – A birthday celebration for former Indiana Gov. Ed Whitcomb will be held from 1 to 3 p.m. Sunday in the fellowship hall of the Evangelical United Church of Christ in Tell City.
Whitcomb, who turned 95 Nov. 6, served as Indiana 43rd governor from 1969 to 1973. He was born in Hayden, the son of John and Louise Whitcomb. An outgoing and athletic youth, he was captain of his high-school basketball team. He entered Indiana University in 1939 to study law, but quit to join the military at the outbreak of World War II. He returned to IU after the war to complete his law degree. In 1958, he published his first book, “Escape From Corregidor,” based on his being captured by the Japanese during the Battle of the Philippines.
A member of the Republican Party, he was first elected to public office in 1950, serving in the Indiana Senate.
He passed the bar exam in 1954 and set up a successful law firm in North Vernon. He moved his practice in later years, having offices in both Seymour and Indianapolis. His law practice helped him build his political base for a run for a state office.
In 1966, Whitcomb was elected to serve as Indiana secretary of state. He was appointed by the governor of Indiana to serve on the Great Lakes Commission with representatives from the Great Lake States who oversaw joint projects for preserving and developing the Great Lakes.
At the 1968 Republican state convention, Whitcomb won the nomination for governor. He won the election in 1968 against Democrat Robert Rock and took office Jan. 13, 1969.
Whitcomb retired from his law practice in 1985. In 1986, he took up sailing and sailed across the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. In 2011, he published his third book, “Cilin II,” a book about his sailing adventures around the world.
He purchased a secluded cabin and acreage in Perry County along the Ohio River near Rome. In 2005, with friend Evelyn Gayer, he remodeled a home in Rome near the old courthouse. His river-view acreage with its three cabins was recently sold to the state for a wildlife refuge at far less than the property value. The property sale was dedicated in October during ceremonies in Rome attended by Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels and local and state dignitaries.
The birthday gathering is an open house to all friends of Whitcomb and Gayer’s. He has asked for no gifts.