Nancy Pence Fritsch’s eyes welled with tears as she paused for a moment to think about her son Mike, who just moments later would be sworn in as Indiana’s governor.
“It’s a very emotional day,” she said as she stood in Room 240 of the Indiana Statehouse, gathered with family who had driven north from Columbus and south from Chicago and from in between.
Pence Fritsch said she moved to Columbus in 1951 and always thought she would move back to Chicago.
“Now I know why I came to Columbus,” she said. “I feel very blessed to be the mother of the governor of Indiana.”
Pence Fritsch also said that on the same date in 1956 she married Ed Pence — the father of Mike and his three brothers and two sisters.
“I’m sure he’s here in spirit,” she said.
Nearby, newly arrived family members exchanged hugs and handshakes, while those who had arrived earlier enjoyed some pastries and coffee in white foam cups.
The room was too small to hold the more than 30 people who attended the gathering, and some escaped the crowd by stepping into the adjacent hallway.
Greg Pence, one of Mike’s brothers, said shortly after 10 a.m. that he had just completed a final walk-through of the upcoming ceremonies, one of the duties he took on as one of the three members of the inauguration committee.
Greg Pence said he had a busy 24 hours and probably got about four hours of sleep the night before. He described the experience as emotional and surreal.
Greg Pence’s son John said the inauguration was an exciting culmination of everyone’s hard work.
The family felt a little bit anxious, too, he said, because now the hard work begins.
John Pence said he had to get back into his vehicle right after the inauguration ceremony because he had a 1 p.m. class Monday at law school.
Gracie Poynter, Mike Pence’s niece from Westfield, said she was looking forward to seeing the smile on her uncle’s face when he took the oath to become the state’s next governor.
“I’m very proud of my uncle,” he said. “I”m just so happy for him.”
Ed Pence, another of Mike’s brothers, said that the family usually just gets together for weddings and funerals and that it was nice to have an additional happy occasion to see everyone.
He also said he was happy and proud of his brother.
“We’re all very excited for Mike and Karen,” he said.
And, he joked, the brothers usually try to “one-up” one another — though he acknowledged that Mike Pence’s brothers would have to work very hard to get the better of him now.
Shortly before 10:30 a.m., family members grabbed their coats, scarves and gloves and headed outside for the inauguration ceremony.