Former Indiana Gov. Joe Kernan, a Vietnam prisoner of war who entered politics and was thrust into the state’s top office when his predecessor suffered a deadly stroke, died Wednesday; he was 74.

Kernan died at a South Bend health care facility, said Mary Downes, who was his governor’s office chief of staff. Kernan was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease several years ago, but his family kept his condition private until disclosing earlier this month that he had lost the ability to speak and was living in a care facility.

Elkhart Truth staff writer Jordan Fouts contributed.

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