INDIANAPOLIS – Rep. Phyllis Pond's 35-year career in the Indiana House is over.
She submitted a letter of resignation Friday that is effective October 15.
A caucus of local precinct committeemen and women will appoint a replacement to fill the remainder of her term, which ends in late 2014.
"Due to the recent diagnosis of pulmonary fibrosis, I regret it will be necessary for me to resign," Pond said in the letter.
She was unavailable for further comment Friday.
The retired kindergarten teacher has served since 1978, and has shown a special interest in education issues.
"It's a bittersweet day. Phyllis will be missed tremendously. She is the longest serving Republican in the House and really a woman who broke all kinds of glass ceilings," said House Speaker Brian Bosma.
"It's also a great time to honor her for her decades of dedicated service to Hoosiers – both in the classroom and in the Statehouse. I just got off the phone with her and told her I loved her."
Pond chaired several committees during her time and was a vice chairwoman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee at one point. She was the first woman to ever sit in the front row of the Republican side of the chamber – a place of influence.
Bosma said even while struggling with health concerns, she has been dedicated. He remembered that her family once had to take the keys to her car out of her hospital room to deter her from leaving.
"She loved being where the action was and in the thick of it," he said.
Pond, 82, had already announced she would not seek re-election, and several locals said they will run for the House District 85 seat.
They include 31-year-old Fort Wayne attorney Casey Cox, as well as Denny Worman of Leo-Cedarville. Worman, who works in real estate, has challenged Pond unsuccessfully four times. Others have been making calls looking for support.
The person appointed to the vacancy could have an advantage in the primary and general elections.
Pond has said she will not endorse anyone to replace her.
She has a bachelor's degree in education from Ball State University and a master's from Indiana University.
While in the House, Pond has worked on many key pieces of legislation. She was the original author of the Primetime educational bill to lower class sizes to 18 in kindergarten through third grade. In recent years she helped author a law setting up a mediation process for marriage dissolution.
- Verbatim: Bosma statement on Pond's resignation
- Verbatim: Berry statement about Rep. Pond's resignation
- Verbatim: Sen. Long's statement about Rep. Pond's resignation
- Verbatim: Gov. Pence statement on Pond resignation
- Verbatim: Rep. Dan Leonard's statement about Pond resignation
- Verbatim: Lehman statement about Rep. Pond
- Verbatim: Rep. Martin Carbaugh's statement about Rep. Pond