Birch Bayh
Birch Bayh
Birch Bayh, one of Terre Haute's most famous native sons, has died at the age of 91.

The three-term, Democratic U.S. senator was the author of two constitutional amendments — the 25th, which established presidential succession, and the 26th, which set the voting age at 18.

Media sources announced Bayh's death this morning. 

He also led an effort in 1969-70 for an amendment that would have made the popular vote, not the Electoral College, the deciding mechanism by which the president is elected.

The measure easily cleared the House, and it was thought to be only a handful of votes short in the Senate. But, as Bayh noted, it never was called to the Senate floor for a full vote.

A strong advocate for women's rights, he was the the author of Title IX, which in 1972 for the first time prohibited discrimination on the basis of sex in the classroom and on the athletic field. Bayh also was strong supporter of the Equal Rights Amendment, which fell just short of ratification.

With Sen. Bob Dole, R-Kansas, Bayh authored the Bayh-Dole act, which enables universities, nonprofit research institutions and small businesses to own, patent, and commercialize inventions developed under federally funded research programs within their organizations.

Bayh is the father of former Indiana governor and former U.S. Sen. Evan Bayh.

Born in Terre Haute, Birch Bayh also spent time on his grandparents farm in Shirkieville, where he later lived. He went to high school in New Goshen and served in the post-World War II U.S. Army in Germany. An athlete, Bayh was a Golden Gloves boxer and twice tried out for Major League Baseball teams.

While farming, he took classes at Indiana State University and eventually graduated from Purdue University with a degree in agriculture. He later earned a law degree from Indiana University.

He was elected to the Indiana House at the age of 26 and later became, at the time, the youngest speaker of the Indiana House.

At the age of 36, he defeated three-term incumbent U.S. Sen. Homer E. Capehart of Washington, Indiana, in the 1962 midterm election.

Bayh would be re-elected to the Senate in 1968 (defeating William D. Ruckelshaus) and in 1974 (defeating Richard Lugar). Bayh was defeated in his bid for a fourth term in 1980 by then-U.S. Rep. Dan Quayle.

Bayh sought his party's nomination for president in 1976, withdrawing in early March.

Bayh was preceded in death by his first wife, Marvella Hern Bayh. She died of breast cancer in 1979. He married Katherine "Kitty" Halpin in 1981.

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