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Bogard was born in Winchester to hard-working depression-era parents who struggled to live modest lives. The family lived in a humble home not far from Winchester High School, where Don also attended his elementary classes. The strong influence of his hard-working mother led him to read voraciously. In the fourth grade, his teacher, Mrs. Grimes, challenged her class of very good students to a reading contest: who could read the most books in the school year? Don Bogard was very competitive and says, “Jane Cockerill and I fought it out to win although I think she probably did.” Forty years later, when they met at a class reunion, the first question was, “What are you reading?” At Winchester High School, while being an avid reader, Don admits to being “academically reluctant.” But his group of “really smart friends,” including the likes of Jim Steele, Gene Cover, Phil Chute, as well as Jane Cockerill, pulled him along, and his competitive spirit made him work hard enough in his studies to “not get clobbered too badly by the smart kids.” The overriding event in the lives of Don and these “really smart friends” was the tragic traffic accident involving the school’s beloved basketball, track and golf coach, Lloyd Mitchell. On Thursday, April 25, 1957, there was a life-altering collision two miles west of Winchester on Highway 32, which injured Mitch and the golf team on their way to a match with Muncie Central. Mitch suffered multiple injuries and died the following Sunday morning. That was the first encounter with grief and sorrow for this young group of high school students. In the car with Mitch were Don Bogard, Dave Tipple, Gary Leonard and Daly Walker. Don suffered physical injuries, as did all the boys, but their group of “really smart friends” helped each of them to get assignments completed that spring, despite their physical limitations. United, they pulled each other through their classes during that tragic time. To this day, a mature Don Bogard regrets not being a stellar student. He had wonderful teachers: Mr. Casey in English, Mr. Martin in Mathematics and Mr. Lawrence in Chemistry and Physics. When Mr. Lawrence left Winchester to join the Physics Department at Ball State University, it was a contributing factor to Don’s decision to begin his higher education at BSU. Bogard received his Bachelor of Science degree in Social Science and Business from Ball State in 1967, eight years after high school graduation. He could only go to school when he had money to pay his expenses, which he earned by working at Shepherds’ Men’s Wear in downtown Winchester. Bernard Shepherd was a key figure in his life and mentored and encouraged Bogard during those years. Don recalls Bernard Shepherd fondly as he remarks, “Bernard influenced me a great deal, both personally and politically. He was also very kind to let me work at his store with very flexible hours.” Bogard continued the same pattern of working and going to school throughout law school in Indianapolis. He received his Doctor of Jurisprudence degree from Indiana University Law School in 1971. Upon graduation, he was named Deputy Attorney General for the State of Indiana, trying property tax cases and winning 24 out of 25 cases. His success led him to be promoted to Assistant Attorney General where he focused on lawsuits in the United States federal courts. He represented Indiana in district courts in the state and elsewhere, and in the United States Courts of Appeals for the Second, Fifth, Seventh, Eleventh, and District of Columbia Circuits. In many cases he was the Indiana lawyer that worked with representatives of attorney generals’ offices from other states that had multi-jurisdictional implications. One such case involved the proposed increase in first class postage by the United States Postal Service. It was at this time that Bogard handled the majority of his cases before the United States Supreme Court, including cases for Indiana, for private employers and amicus curiae briefs on behalf of several states. Two of the more interesting cases that he handled were the Indianapolis School desegregation case and the Kentucky vs Indiana boundary dispute. The school desegregation case was in the courts for 11 years. Four times, the case went up and down to the Supreme Court. The courts ultimately held that when the Indiana General Assembly enacted the Uni-Gov statute consolidating some of the functions of the governments of the city of Indianapolis and Marion County, it committed an act of racial discrimination by failing to consolidate the schools of the city and county. The southern Indiana boundary case was in dispute for 160 years and had been the subject of many lawsuits. In 1966, Ohio sued Kentucky over the location of their state boundary and that case was still pending in 1979 when Kentucky sued Indiana over the same issue.
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