National Press Club

Former Sen. Richard Lugar was a Reliable Source regular, 87

April 29, 2019 | By Mark Schoeff Jr. and Andy Fisher | markschoeff@gmail.com, ajfisher2@yahoo.com

Former Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., a National Press Club member and press freedom champion, died April 28.

Former Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., a National Press Club member and press freedom champion, died April 28.

Photo/Image: The Lugar Center

For many years during his career on Capitol Hill, former Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., had an apple and yogurt at his desk for lunch. When he joined the National Press Club in 2017, he became a lunchtime regular at the Reliable Source.

Lugar, the longest serving member of Congress from Indiana, died Sunday, April 28, at Inova Fairfax Heart and Vascular Institute in Virginia. The cause of death was complications from chronic inflammatory demylinating polyneuropathy. He was 87.

A former chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Lugar was the co-author of legislation with former Sen. Sam Nunn, D-Ga., that rid the former Soviet Union of thousands of nuclear weapons. He also served as chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee during his Senate tenure from 1977-2013.

A former mayor of Indianapolis, Lugar founded the Lugar Center in 2013, a think tank devoted to issues he spent his career pursuing, such as nuclear disarmament, food and energy security and governance.

Club member Maureen Groppe wrote a comprehensive Lugar obituary for USA Today.

Lugar became a Club member in March 2017 shortly after the Lugar Center moved to the Willard Office Building. Lugar would walk across the street three times a week to have lunch at the Reliable Source.

Former Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., at a January 1985 luncheon.

Lugar spoke at a January 1985 luncheon.

Photo/Image: Martin Kuhn/NPC Archives

Over the course of his career, Lugar spoke at the Club eight times, with six of those coming as a luncheon headliner when he was in the Senate. One significant moment was an event promoting the Free Flow of Information Act, a national reporter shield law on which he partnered with then-Indiana Rep. Mike Pence.

Lugar had a fondness for the press dating back to being co-editor of his high school newspaper. Throughout his career, he consumed at least six newspapers a day, clipping and filing stories for later reference.

He was drawn to the Club as a speaker and lunch regular because of the dynamic people he could meet and enriching conversations he could have there.

"He also admired the work of the Press Club over his many years as a senator and thought the venue was a great place for serious exchanges between policymakers and the press," said Dan Diller, policy director at the Lugar Center and a longtime top Lugar Senate aide.