Early Wednesday morning, former Indiana governor Joseph Kernan died at the age of 74 after a long illness. The Indiana Senate Democratic Caucus made the following statement in response:

“It is with great sadness that we have learned of the death of former Governor Joe Kernan. Joe was a true patriot who also was the shining example of a public servant. Service is what immediately comes to mind when we think of Joe: a veteran who endured the rigors and cruelty of being a prisoner of war, and a trusted official as the mayor of South Bend and both lieutenant governor and governor of our state. As lieutenant governor, he was a beloved member of our Indiana Senate family, presiding over the chamber with grace, dignity and always with that famous twinkle in his eye.

“Governor Kernan was a true American hero who touched the lives of so many, in the Hoosier state and beyond. Joe lived his life with humility and was always ready to go to bat for what was right. We truly lost one of our best champions today.

“Joe will always have a fond place in our hearts and in the halls of Hoosier history. Our most heartfelt sympathies go out to Maggie and all who are so proud and grateful to have known Joe Kernan. Today, as we remember his legacy, we ask that all Hoosiers keep Mrs. Kernan and the whole family in their thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.”