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Whitcomb Highway dedication honors former governor's service to Hoosiers

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By Vince Luecke

ROME - Perry County resident and Hoosier statesman Edgar Whitcomb was honored Wednesday for a lifetime of public service that reached from wartime Philippines to the desk of Indiana's governor.

Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman led a delegation of state leaders to Rome, Whitcomb's adopted hometown, to rename a portion of U.S. 50 in Jackson and Jennings counties as the Gov. Edgar D. Whitcomb Highway.

Whitcomb lives in a restored home near the old county courthouse in Rome but was born in Hayden in Jennings County. He attended Indiana University until the outbreak of World War II, then served in the Pacific Theater.

He was in the Philippines when Japanese forces attacked.

Whitcomb was later taken captive and his war experiences formed the foundation for two books, his 1958 Escape from Corregidor and in the 1990s, On Celestial Wings.

After the war, he obtained a law degree and practiced in North Vernon and Seymour. He was elected to the Indiana Senate and in 1966, was elected Indiana secretary of state. Two years later he ran for and was elected the state's 43rd governor. He served from 1969 to 1973.

House Concurrent Resolution No. 12 honoring Whitcomb was introduced by State Reps. Eric Koch, Terry Goodin, Russ Stilwell and Thomas Saunders and State Sen. Brent Steel.

"Gov. Whitcomb served our state and nation with great distinction," Koch said when introducing the resolution. "Naming Highway 50 in his honor would both recognize his service and identify the area from where his values came."

Koch's House District 65 includes parts of Bartholomew, Brown, Jackson and Lawrence counties.

Approved in the General Assembly Feb. 19, the resolution honors Whitcomb for a lifetime of public service.

"Governor Whitcomb served his state and his country in time of war and peace; and he is a dedicated Hoosier whose contributions to our state and nation will be felt for generations to come."