FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — Mark Souder, who represented northeast Indiana in the U.S. House of Representatives for more than 15 years, died at 72 after a months-long battle with pancreatic cancer.
Former Fort Wayne mayor Paul Helmke, who ran against Souder in the Republican Primary in 2002 and lost, remembers Souder as a man of faith. He recalled Souder loved the politics of Washington and strategizing. He and Souder were friends before they ran against each other, and remained friends for years after.
Watch the video below to see Helmke’s interview with WANE 15.
Indiana State Representative Martin Carbaugh (R-Dist. 81) remembered Souder’s strong faith and how Souder took an interest in Carbaugh’s first campaign. Carbaugh helped get Souder awarded the Sagamore of the Wabash – the state’s highest civilian honor – earlier this year.
Watch the video below to hear Carbaugh’s memories of Souder.
Former WANE 15 anchor Heather Herron both covered Souder while he was in Congress and worked with him after his political career to co-write a book about the history of television in Fort Wayne.
Herron recalled Souder as a “true Hoosier” who really cared about making life better for people in Northeast Indiana.
Watch the video below to hear Herron’s memories of Souder.
At the start of the Fort Wayne Community Schools board meeting Monday night, longtime board member and friend of Souder’s Steve Corona shared his thoughts and condolences.
The news of Souder’s passing spurred a multitude of statements from those who knew and worked alongside Souder throughout his life:
Congressman Jim Banks, current representative in Congress for Indiana’s 3rd District:
“Amanda and I are saddened to hear of the passing of our longtime friend Mark Souder. Mark was a constant source of support and advice for me during my six years serving northeast Indiana in Congress. I will miss his regular Facebook messages and his stories about his 15 years of serving in the same job.
Mark dedicated his life to politics from an early age. He started as a member of college Republicans, then worked on campaigns, then served under former Rep. Dan Coats in Washington DC, before he was elected to serve northeast Indiana in Congress. He was an effective advocate for our conservative and pro-life values during his time in Congress and did much to support our national parks in his leadership roles. His life after leaving Congress in 2010 is an example to many of us of grace and redemption.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the entire Souder family as they mourn his passing. Mark’s service to northeast Indiana will be felt for a long time to come.”
Nathan Gotsch, current candidate for Congress in Indiana’s 3rd District:
When I was a junior in high school, Congressman Souder allowed me to shadow him for a day. We spent it traveling around the district, meeting with voters at town halls. What struck me most was how much he knew and cared about each community, explaining to me their specific needs and how he was trying to address them.
That’s something I’ve often thought about as I’ve traveled to all 13 counties of the 3rd District during this campaign. I learned so much from him about a Congressman’s responsibility to one’s constituents, and the importance of showing up and answering their questions even if it might be uncomfortable.
Years later, when I was teaching at Concordia Lutheran High School, he was kind enough to appear as a guest on a podcast I did in 2016 with two politically interested students about that year’s presidential primaries. Afterwards, he and I spoke for over an hour about his fears for the Republican Party going forward and how alarmed he was at the nastiness being embraced by so many politicians.
The seeds of my current run for Congress were planted in that conversation, and I wouldn’t be running were it not for my interactions with him.
I’m grateful to him for the kindness he showed me, and for his commitment to serving the people of Northeast Indiana. My thoughts and prayers are with his friends and family.
Steve Shine, Allen County Republican Party Chairman:
Congressman Souder was by far one of the most intellectual conservatives to serve in Congress. He was the go-to guy for other Republican congressmen to thoughtfully present the Republican point of view. He was a phenomenal representative for our district. He was sorely missed when he resigned from Congress and he will be mournfully missed upon his death.
Allen County commissioners:
The Allen County Board of Commissioners is saddened to learn about the passing of former US Congressman, Mark Souder, yesterday after a months-long battle with cancer. Congressman Souder cared about the success of Northeast Indiana and represented the interests of Allen County in Washington.
Locally, he will be remembered for his strong roots in Grabill, Indiana, his advocacy for federal funding for the Maplecrest Road bridge project, support for the National Park Service, and support for General Motors during the great recession. He saw early on the scourge of methamphetamine and worked to legislatively fight it. After his resignation, he did not seek personal gain but returned to a quiet life in Allen County.