Farmer and legislator Richard S. Cordrey viewed the culmination of both careers this week when he attended a dedication of the state's Department of Agriculture building in his honor. Surrounded by friends, neighbors, family, and former and current elected officials, Cordrey said he was blessed to have the two best jobs in the world. “I have thoroughly enjoyed being a farmer and legislator. If I could have chosen any building in the state for my name to be associated with, it would have been this one.”
Rep. John Atkins, D-Millsboro, and Sen. George Bunting, D-Bethany Beach, sponsored legislation to have the Route 13 building in Dover named for Cordrey. “I made that my No. 1 legislative priority during 2012,” said Atkins, speaking at the Dec. 19 ceremony.
Atkins said he remembered as a young man going into Sam's Restaurant in Millsboro and seeing Cordrey, U.S. Sen. John Williams and other local farmers and legislators talking about the issues of the day every morning. “My grandmother and grandfather lived on one of Richard's tenant farms,” said Atkins. “I can also remember him and my grandfather digging potatoes together.”
Delaware Secretary of Finance Tom Cook holds the position Cordrey once held in the Minner administration. “When I think about Richard Cordrey, I think about honesty, integrity and always being there to help others,” he said.
Former Senate Majority Leader Tom Sharp served in that position for 18 years, during which time Cordrey held the Senate president pro tem position, presiding over the state Senate. “We sat side by side, and he always fought hard for the farming community,” said Sharp, “In 1974, when someone declared the state bankrupt, Sen. Cordrey worked with Gov. Tribbitt to get us through.”
Gov. Jack Markell applauded the building dedication in Cordrey's honor. “This is an incredibly important building in terms of the state's past and for the future. Agriculture will continue to be incredibly important for Delaware in the future, and it's fitting that it be named in honor of someone who served so well for three decades.”
A Millsboro-area grain and poultry farmer, Cordrey is the longest-serving Senate president pro tempore in Delaware history, serving in that role for 20 years and as a senator for 24 years. Before being elected to the Senate, Cordrey served two years in the House of Representatives. He also served as secretary of finance after his retirement from the Senate.