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Former Indiana First Lady Susan Bayh dies at 61 after years of brain cancer treatments

Obit Susan Bayh
Posted at 12:29 PM, Feb 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-07 13:27:58-05

INDIANAPOLIS — Former Indiana First Lady Susan Bayh died Friday at 61 after years of brain cancer treatments, her family announced.

"It is with great sadness that we report the passing of Susan Breshears Bayh after a long and courageous fight against glioblastoma and its complications," her family said in a statement.

Susan was the first lady of Indiana from 1989-1997, when her husband, Evan, was governor.

In May 2018, she had surgery to remove a tumor related to a form of brain cancer.

In 2015, Susan Bayh had surgery to remove a benign tumor in Washington, D.C. At the time, she reported headaches for about 2 1/2 weeks before a scan found a plum-sized tumor.

PREVIOUS | Former Indiana first lady Susan Bayh undergoes brain cancer surgery

A memorial service for Susan will be held when health conditions allow, the family said. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the Bayh Family Scholarship through the Paul H. O'Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs School at Indiana University.

Condolences to the family can be left at 317-643-2312.

You can read the family's full statement below.

President Joe Biden released the following statement on Sunday.

Jill and I are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Susan Bayh, a beloved public servant and a warm and wonderful friend who brought light to the lives of all who knew her.

A former First Lady of Indiana, Susan came to Washington after her husband Evan served as Governor and was elected to the United States Senate. In a family whose name is synonymous with service and achievement, Susan stood out as a singular treasure — a model of goodness, generosity, and grace.

Over the years, our families were bonded by collegiality and friendship, and, later, by a terrible disease. Susan was diagnosed with glioblastoma, the same illness that took our son, Beau. Just like him, Susan fought her battle as she lived her life: bravely, with love and purpose.

Our prayers are with our dear friend Evan, their twin boys, Nick and Beau, the entire Bayh family, and the millions of Hoosiers who loved and respected Susan. Jill and I will miss our friend.

Former Vice President Mike Pence released the following statement.

Karen and I were truly saddened to learn of the passing of our friend, former Indiana First Lady Susan Bayh. We send our deepest sympathies and prayers to her devoted husband, Evan, their sons Beau and Nick, and their entire family during this difficult time. Susan Bayh lived a truly extraordinary life, and she will be remembered for her great service to Indiana and our Nation. In public service, in her professional life and philanthropy, Susan Bayh made a difference in the lives of generations of Hoosiers, and she will be deeply missed. In the face of serious illness, her tenacious spirit and optimism inspired us all. Susan Bayh loved her family, our state and her friends with a smile and irrepressible optimism that will never be forgotten. Karen and I will be praying for Evan, their sons, family and all who loved and cherished this truly remarkable Hoosier. God bless Susan Bayh.

Politicians and people in Indiana have released statements in response to the news. You can read them below.

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb released the following statement.

Janet and I were saddened to learn about the passing of former First Lady Susan Bayh. She was an extraordinary and radiant public servant, wife, mother and friend, who leaves a remarkable impact on our state and nation. I ask all Hoosiers to join us in praying and being there for the Bayh family.

Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch released the following statement.

I am saddened to learn of the passing of former Indiana First Lady Susan Bayh. She was always a bright face to see at the Statehouse and throughout our state. She led Hoosiers by example and always wanted what was best for Indiana. My heart goes out to the Bayh family and I encourage Hoosiers everywhere to keep the family in their thoughts and prayers.

Indiana Democratic Party Chairman John Zody released the following statement.

Indiana Democrats are absolutely heartbroken to hear about the passing of one of our most cherished Hoosiers. Susan Bayh dedicated her life to her state and to her family - and alongside her husband worked at solving some of the state’s toughest problems while improving the lives of all Hoosiers across Indiana. Susan was a leading voice for so many women, and her passion for her husband, her sons, and the future of Indiana are just some of the ways we will remember her. I will never forget attending a large event as an elementary school student in the 1980s and hearing from our First Lady, Mrs. Bayh. Countless others surely have similar stories, and we are all better for her leadership and her life.

As we mourn her, we will be holding Senator Bayh, Beau and Nick close in our thoughts, prayers and condolences as members of our Indiana Democratic family.

Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett released the following statement.

For more than a half-century, and across three generations, the Bayh family has given itself to this state and our country. A talented lawyer, Susan exemplified this spirit of service as First Lady, opening the doors of the Governor's Residence and inviting the people of Indiana to share in her and Evan's joy as they became parents to Beau and Nick. In recent years, Susan continued to inspire as she battled cancer with characteristic fearlessness – even as her sons enlisted in the military and swore oaths to support and defend the Constitution on our behalf.

As with so many today, I am saddened by the loss of my friend but heartened at the legacy of leadership Susan has left to her family and a grateful Hoosier State. Steph and I offer our heartfelt condolences to Evan, Beau, Nick, and the entire Bayh family.

Emmis Communication released the following statement.

Susan Bayh joined Emmis' Board of Directors when the company went public in 1994. She was a genuine person who offered a unique perspective that helped chart the company's course for 27 years. Susan was not only a trusted advisor; she could light up a room, and her passion for life was infectious. We will miss her deeply, and strive to honor her memory in our thoughts and work by always doing the right thing for our employees, community and stakeholders.

Indiana University President Michael A. McRobbie released the following statement.

The Indiana University community is deeply saddened by the passing of former Indiana first lady Susan Bayh. As an attorney, a businesswoman and an educator, Susan was a great ambassador for Indiana and a champion for Hoosiers all across our state.

We were honored by, and extremely grateful for, the service Susan provided to IU's Paul H. O'Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs as a member of the school's Dean's Council, which includes a number of distinguished public servants from across the nation who are at the forefront of their fields. Her involvement with the council contributed greatly to the O'Neill School's reputation for excellence and its mission to prepare students to become successful leaders who are driven to build a better world. We will also remember Susan for her courageous fight against brain cancer and for serving as an inspiration to others facing difficult life challenges.

All of us at Indiana University send our heartfelt condolences to Susan's husband, Evan; their children; and all of those with whom she shared her life and service to our state.

Former Indiana First Lady Judy O'Bannon Willsey released the following statement.

I'm reminded today of the time when I was getting to know Susan as our husbands teamed up in 1988. I recall her eagerness and vigor as she was starting her law career, her family and in her role as Indiana's First Lady. She was magnetic and her energy came through in all she did. Her grace as she faced this battle with cancer these last few years was an inspiration. Our O'Bannon family heart aches today, as Hoosiers have lost one of our champions and a friend, and our thoughts and prayers are with Evan, Nick and Beau at this difficult time.