Joseph Kernan, the 48th Governor of the State of Indiana, died Wednesday morning following a long illness.
He is survived by his wife, Maggie, and seven siblings.
Kernan, a graduate of the University of Notre Dame, began his career as a Lieutenant in the United States Navy. He and his co-pilot were shot down while on a reconnaissance mission over North Vietnam in 1972. He spent 11 months as a prisoner of war in Hanoi, including at the infamous ‘Hanoi Hilton’ prison.
Kernan returned home in 1974 to begin a career in business. His path led him to the city government, where he served three consecutive terms as Mayor of the City of South Bend.
In 1996, he was asked by Frank O’Bannon to join him as candidate for Lt. Governor. O’Bannon and Kernan were elected in November of that year and won reelection in 2000.
In 2003, Kernan became governor upon O’Bannon’s death. He was sworn in as the state’s 48th governor. He made history by appointing Kathy Davis as Indiana’s first female Lt. Governor.
Kernan retired from politics in 2005 and remained busy in his hometown of South Bend. He worked as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Notre Dame and in his own consulting firm.
Governor Eric Holcomb is directing flags statewide to be flown at half-staff to honor Kernan.
Flags should be flown at half-staff from now until sunset on Wednesday, August 5th