DOVER – Former state Senate President Pro Tempore and Secretary of Finance Richard S. Cordrey was honored Wednesday for his 35 years in public service to the State of Delaware with the renaming of the state Department of Agriculture headquarters in his honor.
Cordrey, a Millsboro-area farmer, 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.
“Senator Cordrey’s long service to the people of Delaware is an example of true dedication,” said GovernorJack Markell. “His three decades in public office were spent tirelessly working for his constituents and the greater good of the State.”
“Senator Cordrey has always been a strong voice for Delaware farmers,” said Secretary of Agriculture Ed Kee. “He knows the land, having worked it since his childhood, and he knows the people, as a native son of Sussex County.”
Senate Bill 249, which named the building after Cordrey, passed unanimously in both chambers during the last General Assembly Session.
“He is a tremendous asset to our state,” said Rep. John Atkins, chairman of the House Agriculture Committee and a primary sponsor of the bill. “I have known Senator Cordrey my entire life – my grandfather worked for his father, and continued to work for him. The contributions he has made to agriculture have been invaluable. I was very pleased to be able to sponsor this bill.”
“When you look at everything Senator Cordrey has done, this is a fitting tribute,” said former Sen. George H. Bunting Jr., a primary sponsor of the bill. “He’s been around agriculture all his life and earned great respect in the agricultural and business communities and, of course, he was the longest-serving pro tem in the history of the Senate and was a great mentor to many of us. Working with his sons, he’s still active in the business community, so I was pleased to have been able to do that for him.”
Senator Cordrey said the dedication was an immense honor. “If I had any choice of any building to have my name put upon, it would be this one right here,” he said. “I have had the two best jobs anyone has ever had in the world – being a legislator and being a farmer.”
Senator Cordrey was born and raised in Millsboro, where he still lives. He graduated from Millsboro High School and Goldey-Beacom College, and after serving in the U.S. Army, returned to Millsboro, where he would own and operate R.S.C. Farms for more than 50 years.
He met his wife, Mary Jane, at Goldey-Beacom, and they were married in 1953. The couple has two sons, Rick and Steve, who are owners of East Coast Garden Center and the Cordrey Center in Millsboro.
Senator Cordrey was elected to the state House of Representatives in 1970 and the state Senate in 1972. He was chosen as Senate Majority Leader in 1974, and in 1976 began his record 20-year service as Senate President Pro Tempore. He also served on the Millsboro Town Council from 1965 to 1973. He retired from the Senate in 1996, and was selected by Gov. Ruth Ann Minner to serve as Secretary of Finance from 2005 to 2009.