Senator Paul D. Coverdell
Paul D. Coverdell was born on January 20, 1939, in Des Moines, Iowa. He received a BS in Journalism from the University of Missouri in 1961. He was awarded two honorary degrees: a Doctor of Law from Mercer University and a Doctor of Business Administration from Piedmont College. He was married to Nancy Nally Coverdell of Georgia. Soon after finishing college, Coverdell began service in the Army in 1962 as a Captain in Okinawa, Taiwan and Korea. After his military service, he moved to Atlanta in 1964 and worked with his father in the founding of Coverdell & Co. Inc., an insurance marketing business. Paul Coverdell was named company president in 1965 and would later become CEO of the family business.
After an unsuccessful attempt at the Georgia Senate in 1968, Coverdell ran again in 1970, winning a Republican seat in the Georgia State Senate. As a Georgia State Senator, Coverdell began serving as Senate Minority Leader in 1974, a position he held until his resignation from the Georgia Senate in 1989. In January 1989, he was nominated by President George Bush to serve as Director of the Peace Corps, due in part to his lifelong commitment to humanitarian efforts in the state of Georgia. President Bush swore Coverdell into office in an Oval Office ceremony on May 2, 1989. That same year Coverdell stepped down as president of Coverdell and Co. Inc, in order to devote all of his energy to his service at the Peace Corps. While Paul Coverdell served as director of the Peace Corps, the world saw great political change that affected the agency’s efforts. As director, Coverdell initiated a program called World Wise Schools, which links students in the United States with Peace Corps volunteers serving around the world. During the time Coverdell was in office, the World Wise Schools program connected volunteers with 5,000 classrooms in the United States. The program continues to grow with volunteers working with more than 7,000 teachers across the United States.
In September 1991, Coverdell resigned as director of the Peace Corps to pursue a Republican seat in the United States Senate. President Bush showed his support for Coverdell and Barbara Bush campaigned for him during the senate race. He successfully won the seat in 1992 in a runoff election against Democrat Wyche Fowler. Coverdell was re-elected to his senate seat in 1998, defeating Democrat Michael Coles.
Coverdell was known by his peers in the US Senate for being a hardworking, intelligent and devoted Senator. As a United States Senator, he supported the war against drugs and violence and worked to ensure a good education for all children. He sponsored efforts to allow parents to create special tax fee savings accounts for their children’s educational future. As Chairman of the Agriculture subcommittee on Marketing, Inspection and Product Promotion, Coverdell promoted Georgia’s agriculture and worked to ensure food safety. He also served on the Small Business Committee working to create a fairer tax code. Coverdell supported volunteerism throughout his career. In June 1997 President Clinton signed into law Coverdell’s Volunteer Protection Act, a law that protects volunteers, nonprofit organizations and governmental entities from lawsuits when they are involved in charitable and non-profit activities. He also worked hard to combat problems concerning drugs in the state of Georgia and worked to impose stiffer penalties for drug smugglers and dealers. He served on the subcommittee for Foreign Relations and has worked in Georgia to initiate Operation Drug-Free Georgia. Coverdell served as secretary to the Senate Republican Conference and was in line to become chairman of that committee at the end of 2000. He was also named chairman for the Senate Republican Task Force on Education.
Senator Coverdell experienced a cerebral hemorrhage on July15, 2000. He underwent surgery at Piedmont Hospital in Atlanta on July 17, but died on July 18. The death of Coverdell was a great loss for the state of Georgia and the United States Senate. Senator Coverdell was known by his peers for not letting partisan politics influence his beliefs. He is remembered for his high standard of ethics and his humble attitudes. At the time of his death, Senator Coverdell was the fourth ranking Republican in the United States Senate.