Today, I have the unfortunate task of attending the funeral of my colleague and friend, State Representative Gloria Goeglein. Gloria passed away last Saturday night as a result of complications from surgery. She was a young 70.
Gloria Goeglein was a true servant of the people. She held a number of political offices throughout a long and distinguished career, including a term on the County Council; two terms as County Auditor; and several years as the Director of Purchasing for the City of Fort Wayne. But it was her eleven years of service in the State Legislature that truly defined her life in politics.
There are 150 legislators in the Indiana State Assembly, but there are few who honestly make a big difference. Gloria Goeglein was one of the few. She was the undisputed expert in the area of mental health, and fought tirelessly to enhance the awareness of her colleagues and the people of her state as to the plight of those who suffered from this illness.
When I first came to the State Senate in 1996, I did not have an appreciation for the difficulties faced by the individuals and their families who suffered from mental illness. In an era when this malady could be controlled with proper medication, allowing a person suffering from its symptoms to live a relatively normal life, there was still resistance by the health insurance industry to treat this disease as a covered illness. Because of this, many people who could have benefited significantly from the new medications were unable to afford them, leaving them to suffer the ravages of this disease.
Gloria Goeglein gave me a thorough education on the subject, and convinced me, and many of my colleagues, that requiring health insurance companies to provide coverage for mental illness was the correct and humane thing to do. As a result of her efforts, the law was recently changed in our State, paving the way for many thousands of Hoosiers to afford the new medications that will allow them to live normal lives.
Gloria was also a champion of the disabled, and tirelessly advocated for the eradication of discrimination against this group of Americans in our society.
And finally, Gloria was an expert in local government, someone who could be counted on not only to listen to her local city and county leaders when they needed to discuss an issue, but also someone who could help "carry the water" when legislation was required.
I hope you can tell from this article that I had great respect for Gloria Goeglein. She will be missed, not only by her colleagues, not only by her constituents and the people of Allen County, but by all Hoosiers who needed a champion for their cause in order to make their voices heard. Here was a person who truly made a difference.