Former Georgia governor Sonny Perdue praised Statesboro on Tuesday night during the 24th Annual Deen Day Smith Service to Mankind Awards gala, held at Georgia Southern University’s Nessmith-Lane Continuing Education Building.
As keynote speaker, Perdue focused on the gift of giving and said Statesboro is a unique community where citizens have a reputation for compassion and involvement.
After a glowing introduction from Statesboro businessman Ellis Wood, Perdue took the stage.
“My goal in life is to be the person Ellis Wood thinks I am,” he said. “It is wonderful to be back in this vibrant community. You understand you all live in a fairly unique community, and this event tonight is one of the things that makes it unique.”
The Deen Day Service to Mankind recipients are “ordinary people doing extraordinary things,” he said. “This is what it is all about in this community.
“Tonight, we celebrate people who make others feel better by the things they have done. Some are doing very simple but elegant things for others, and this is what makes a community.”
A sense of family and a “real human touch” means a great deal to people, and the people honored by the awards gala are people who made others “feel more important, made them feel more loved,” Perdue said. “That’s what it’s really all about — how we made other people feel.”
The awards banquet “typifies what a service community can mean,” he continued. “You can’t fake … authenticity of service. It’s important to come together to be the kind of community you want to be. This is a thriving, growing community and will remain so.”
After Perdue concluded his speech, he was presented a gift by Ogeechee technical College President Dawn Cartee — a crystal magnolia.
Perdue is a founding partner of Perdue Partners, LLC, and served as Georgia’s 81st governor. He owns a successful commodity trading company as well as a logistics company. Perdue was named by Governing Magazine in as Public Official of the Year for outstanding leadership, and Reason Foundation’s 2009 Innovators in Action Magazine recognized him as a leader who “aggressively pursued new strategies to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of government and deliver better value at less cost to taxpayers.”
In 2008, the Pew Center on the States ranked Georgia among the best managed states in the nation emphasizing the value and impact of improvements made by Perdue’s Commission for a New Georgia, which he created in 2003. It was populated by 400 of Georgia’s top business leaders to improve the effectiveness, efficiency, accountability and culture of public service. The Commission for a New Georgia made and implemented 130 recommendations and inspired the book “Smart Government: Bureaucracy with a Business Brain.”
Perdue served as Georgia’s governor from Jan. 2003 until Jan. 2011. He served as a state senator for 11 years and was recognized as a leading authority on numerous issues including agriculture, transportation, emerging technologies and economic development.
After earning a doctorate in veterinary medicine from the University of Georgia and serving as a captain in the United States Air Force, Perdue became a successful business owner, concentrating in agribusiness and transportation logistics.
Holli Deal Bragg may be reached at (912) 489-9414.