The April 28 death of former six-term U.S. senator Richard Lugar at age 87 prompted us to reflect on his visits to northeast Indiana.
The Indianapolis native traveled to the Fort Wayne area at least two-dozen times between 1996 and his defeat in the 2012 Republican primary election, according to newspaper archives.
Schools were a common destination for the Rhodes scholar, first elected to the Senate in 1976. Lugar appeared at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, Homestead High School, Lakeside Middle School and Glenwood Park Elementary School, all in Fort Wayne, and Columbia City High School. He spoke at Manchester College's commencement ceremony in 2010.
Lugar visited Community Harvest Food Bank in Fort Wayne three times in the early 2000s. He rode in the Three Rivers Festival Parade in 1999. Over the years, he attended a couple of Allen County Republican Party Lincoln Day Dinners, spoke to local business organizations, visited a church, signed copies of his book "Letters to the Next President" at a city bookstore and ate pecan pie while talking with farmers at the Village Kitchen restaurant in Angola.
In 2008, Lugar handed out U.S. citizenship certificates to 59 new Americans at IPFW. In 2011, he conducted a farm bill "listening session" at the Allen County Fairgrounds. He met with officials at the Air National Guard's 122nd Fighter Wing in Fort Wayne a week before losing the 2012 primary to then state Treasurer Richard Mourdock.
The Richard Lugar Safe Haven for Veterans, a Fort Wayne shelter for homeless military veterans operated by the nonprofit Volunteers for America Indiana, is named for the former senator, who was a Navy veteran.