- The Washington Times - Monday, July 28, 2003


Vance Hartke, a U.S. senator from Indiana for 18 years and briefly an antiwar candidate for president in 1972, has died of heart failure, his son said. He was 84.

Mr. Hartke, a Democrat and a native of the southern Indiana coal-mining town of Stendal, died at 8:25 p.m. on Sunday. He was first elected to the Senate in 1958. He was re-elected in 1964 and 1970 before losing to Richard Lugar. After his defeat in 1976, Mr. Hartke settled in Reston, opening a private law firm in Falls Church, Hartke & Hartke.

“He was working in his office Friday night when I dropped by to see him,” said his son, Jan. “He wanted to be somebody who continued to achieve something.”

A World War II veteran and former mayor of Evansville, he became the first Indiana Democrat to serve three terms. He created and served as the first chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.

While in office, he was known primarily for his opposition to the Vietnam War. But he also helped craft legislation to create student loan programs, veterans’ benefits, Amtrak and Conrail. He also used his chairmanship of a Transportation subcommittee to pressure the auto industry for safer cars. He also created the International Executive Service Corps, an organization that sent retired U.S. businessmen to poor countries to help small businesses grow. The group was modeled after the Peace Corps.

Mr. Hartke, who had open-heart surgery three years ago, is survived by his wife of 60 years, Martha, four sons, three daughters and 16 grandchildren.

He will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors, but funeral plans were tentative yesterday.

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