TBT: Senator David Perdue and Sonny Perdue Discuss Their Middle Georgia Roots
“The way we grew up and the principles we were embedded with at an early age gave us degree to never forget where we came from. And I think that’s really important with public service.” – David
In 2018, U.S. Senator David Perdue and his cousin, Sonny Perdue, sat down with the Houston Home Journal to talk about faith, family, and their Middle Georgia roots.
Read excerpts below and the full profile here.
While Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and U.S. Senator David Perdue have served in political office for several years, one thing that never changes for them, as cousins, is never forgetting where they came from. In doing so, both agree that it has led them to blessings from their life lessons and family roots of meaningful, purposeful work.
Senator Perdue was born in Macon, Georgia and raised in Warner Robins. He attended Lindsey Elementary, Westside Elementary, Northside Junior High, and graduated from Northside High School. The two recall memories of growing up together.
“David and I grew up in that era of the glory years of the 1950s and 1960s where you did whatever it took,” Sec. Perdue said.
“Both of our mothers were longstanding teachers in the Houston County School System and had proper expectations of us. Our fathers had very high expectations of us as well. We would have good grades, but it was always, why couldn’t you do better? So we were always improving in a way that drove us in a positive way to be the very best you could in all you did.”
“We come from a big extended family,” Sen. Perdue said. “No matter what, we always got together every chance we had. But I mainly would spend my summers with Sonny on his father’s farm. If you look in the Webster’s Dictionary for the definition of responsibility you will find a picture of Sonny. I remember watching Sonny at a really young age in the field working, and then straight from there he would put on his uniform to go to little league practice. The way we grew up and the principles we were embedded with at an early age gave us degree to never forget where we came from. And I think that’s really important with public service.”
Both Sec. Perdue and Sen. Perdue’s mothers retired after teaching for over 40 years at the Houston County School System. Sen. Perdue’s father was also a teacher, principal, and was the School Superintendent for several years. Sec. Perdue’s father operated a dairy and diversified row crop farm.
Sen. Perdue went on to Georgia Institute of Technology where he graduated with a degree in Industrial Engineering. Later on he earned his second degree from Georgia Institute of Technology, a master’s in Operations Research. He served as an executive for leading international companies. As Senior Vice President of Asia Operations Research for Sara Lee, Perdue established the company’s first Asia headquarters, was President and CEO of the Reebok brand, was credited with revitalizing the athletic brand, and as Chairman and CEO of Dollar General, he oversaw the company’s expansion from 5,900 to 8,500 stores nationwide, creating thousands of quality jobs. While at Dollar General, he became heavily involved in literacy and served as Chairman of the National Commission on Literacy and Workforce Development.
“I knew David would do an amazing job in the Senate and still does,” Sec. Perdue said. “He still continues to advocate for things he came for. It’s a seductive place up here and you can get compromised really quickly. And I am just extremely proud of David holding true to his promises for the people of Georgia. We take these stewardships very seriously. We want to make our family proud and people proud of morale and ethical decisions we make for Georgia and the U.S.”
“I think that one of the blessings that we have is, it’s unusual to have two contemporary family members involved in different ways like this,” Sen. Perdue said. “I enjoyed watching Sonny work in the President’s cabinet. I watch how that leadership flows through that room, and how it benefits of our farmers around the country. Life experiences are what we bring up here, but we also bring the humility. I see so many people here in this town who kind of lose sight of who they are and where they came from. Sonny and I attend Bible studies led by our different committees and it’s important. It keeps our feet on the ground and lets us know who is really in charge here.”