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Paul Coverdell
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Born Des Moines, Iowa, January_20, 1939
Died Atlanta, Georgia, July_19, 2000

Paul Coverdell
Shortly after 7 p.m. on July 19, 2000, United States Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott rose to the podium on the floor of the U. S. Senate and with a trembling voice spoke of his close friend Paul Coverdell. The senator from Georgia had passed away an hour earlier in Atlanta's Piedmont Hospital after a stroke. Coverdell had been complaining of headaches for weeks, but on Friday, July 14 they had become severe. He checked into Piedmont that Saturday. An operation on Monday failed to relieve pressure and on Tuesday night a massive hemorrhage began a series of events that ended the life of Georgia's senior senator at the age of 61.

This quiet, soft-spoken man was a driving force in Georgia's conservative movement and a leader of the Republican Party. For more than 30 years he served his state, the governor, and the President of the United States in various positions, most recently as Senator from Georgia.

Born in Iowa, Coverdell moved to Georgia as a teenager, graduating from Northside High School when it was still a suburban area. After graduation from the University of Missouri in 1961 (B.S., Journalism) he served in Okinawa, Taiwan, and Korea and returned to Atlanta in 1964, where he was a successful businessman. Politics had always held a special interest for Paul, so when the opportunity arose he ran for the state senate. He was one of the few Republicans in the government, however, many of the conservative Democrats shared his views.

In 1978, while vacationing in Maine, he looked up the address of George Bush in a phone book, went to his home, knocked on the door and introduced himself when the future president answered. The two became close friends and throughout the next fourteen years Bush would turn to Coverdell for help on a number of occasions. It was Bush who appointed Coverdell to head the Peace Corps, giving him national recognition for his role as leader during the revitalization of this program.

It was no surprise when he announced his candidacy for Senator in 1992, taking on incumbent Wyche Fowler and sending the Democrat to the same one-term anonymity that Fowler had done to Mack Mattingly (a friend of Coverdell's) just six years before. Ironically, his friend George Bush lost the presidency that same year.

Coverdell brought a certain energy to the Senate. He had friends on both sides of the aisle. This tireless advocate looked at the U. S. Senate as a place to help not only his fellow Georgians but also the people of the United States. He considered "educational IRA's," which allowed parents to save money to pay for a child's education, an important victory. He took strong pro-law enforcement and anti-drug stances. Coverdell sponsored a bill to further protect the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area. He fought to prohibit retroactive tax increases. And he fought tirelessly not only for the civil rights of Americans but for human rights around the world.

During his last campaign in 1998, the Athens Daily News had this to say about Mr. Coverdell when they endorsed him for a second term:
Paul Coverdell's values reflect the beliefs of the vast majority of Georgians. He knows what Georgians want and need and he has a good understanding of what's best for America.

In the world of partisan politics the outpouring of respect and admiration from both sides of the aisle is truly the lasting legacy of this north Georgian.

County: Fulton County

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