Former Indiana First Lady Susan Bayh Dies at 61: 'Heaven Has Gained a Shining Star'
Susan Bayh, a former first lady of Indiana and the wife of former Gov. Evan Bayh, has died of brain cancer, according to an announcement made by her family Saturday. She was 61.
A family spokesperson told the Associated Press that Susan died Friday night in McLean, Virginia.
"Susan was an incredible person who led a life full of love, courage, and accomplishment. Susan excelled academically and professionally," her family's statement read. "But above all, Susan was a loving spouse, mother, child, sibling, and friend."
The Bayhs had twin sons, Beau and Nick, who were born in 1995 during their father's time as governor.
President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden expressed condolences in a statement released by the White House 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," the statement read.
Susan's husband, a Democrat, was first elected in 1988 and served two terms as governor. Susan went to Washington after her husband was subsequently elected to the United States Senate.
The couple became close with the Bidens, according to the White House statement, after Susan was diagnosed with the same illness that ultimately led to the death of Beau Biden.
"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," the Bidens' statement read.
They continued: "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," the Bidens said.
Her family said in their statement that Susan earned her degree in political science from the University of California at Berkeley and also held a law degree from the University of Southern California. She was appointed in 1994 by then-President Bill Clinton to the International Joint Commission, where she served for six years.
"Susan was the 46th First Lady of Indiana and the youngest in 150 years, assuming the role when only 29 years old," her family said. "She worked tirelessly to support her husband's initiatives and established a 501(c)2 charitable organization to combat adult illiteracy in the Hoosier state. She made countless speeches, gave numerous interviews, and attended innumerable public events as an active First Lady. Governor Bayh would often say that 'Hoosiers voted for Susan's husband.' "
Susan maintained a positive outlook despite her diagnosis, her family said: "Throughout her two-year, eight-month battle against cancer, she never once complained or expressed self-pity. Despite a multitude of hardships, she continued to display her exuberance, happiness, and love for others. Her fortitude was truly unbelievable and an example for us all."
"Susan's passing leaves the world a darker place, but Heaven has gained a shining star and the firmament will be the brighter for her presence there," her family said. "We will love and miss her always."
She and her husband were married for more than 35 years, according to her family, who said that a memorial service will be held "when health conditions allow."
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