Paul Broun Sr. was an Athens businessman who served in the Georgia senate for thirty-eight years and was renowned for his legislative leadership on budget and education issues.

Paul Broun Sr.
Paul Broun Sr.

Courtesy of Georgia Info, Digital Library of Georgia.

Early Life

Paul Collins Broun was born on March 1, 1916, in Shellman, in Randolph County, to Annie Charlotte Edwards and LeRoy Augustus Broun. After the family moved to Athens in 1930, he graduated from Athens High School in 1933 and received a bachelor of science degree in agricultural engineering from the University of Georgia in 1937. In 1938 he married Gertrude Margaret Beasley, and they had three children, Paul Jr., Conway, and Michael. Paul Broun Jr. won a special election in July 2007 for Georgia’s Tenth U.S. Congressional District seat, replacing the deceased Charlie Norwood.

Broun served in the U.S. Army in Hawaii and Australia during World War II (1941-45), rising to the rank of lieutenant colonel. After the war he returned to Athens, where he operated a Studebaker-Packard dealership and a Firestone tire store. He was a civic leader in the Athens community, serving as president of the local chamber of commerce in 1958 and as chairman of the Athens Housing Authority.

Political Career

Broun was first elected to the state senate in 1962 in a historic election that took place after the federal courts struck down Georgia’s long-established county unit election system. Broun was one of several new senators elected in a class that included Jimmy Carter, the future president of the United States; Leroy Johnson, the first Black legislator elected in Georgia since Reconstruction; and politicians like Hugh Gillis, Culver Kidd, and Bobby Rowan, who would have a lasting impact on legislative politics.

Broun was elected to nineteen consecutive terms in the senate, where he served as the chairman of the Appropriations Committee and the University System Committee. He was instrumental in putting money in the budget for the development of the state’s flagship institution of higher education, the University of Georgia, as well as the expansion of Athens Technical College.

Broun was a key player in the passage of legislation that established the World Congress Center in Atlanta and helped secure the funds for the Athens perimeter highway that was named the Paul Broun Parkway. He was also part of the legislative team that worked with Governor Zell Miller in the early 1990s to finalize the legislation that created a state lottery and dedicated the lottery proceeds to fund HOPE scholarships, a landmark program that enabled thousands of high school students to attend college.

Zell Miller and Paul Broun
Zell Miller and Paul Broun

Courtesy of Georgia Info, Digital Library of Georgia.

Broun’s political career ended in 2000, after he lost the Democratic primary election to Athens lawyer Doug Haines, who had campaigned for Broun in 1996. Broun was one of several legislative incumbents who were defeated that year after they voted for Governor Roy Barnes’s education reform act and drew opposition from the Georgia Association of Educators, one of the state’s largest teachers’ groups.

He died on February 14, 2005, just two weeks short of his eighty-ninth birthday.

Share Snippet Copy Copy with Citation

Updated Recently

Sea Island

Sea Island

2 days ago
Alice Walker

Alice Walker

1 week ago
Christian Science

Christian Science

1 week ago

Explore Georgia’s rich music history

From blues and soul to classical and country—our Spotify playlists feature 130+ songs written and performed by Georgians.

Image

Paul Broun Sr.

Paul Broun Sr.

Paul Broun Sr., pictured in the 1980s, served in the state senate from 1962 until 2000. A native of Randolph County, Broun was a businessman in Athens at the time of his election to the senate, where he served as chairman of the Appropriations Committee and the University System Committee.

Zell Miller and Paul Broun

Zell Miller and Paul Broun

Paul Broun (right), a state senator for thirty-eight consecutive years, is pictured in 1986 with Georgia lieutenant governor (later governor) Zell Miller. Broun and Miller worked together in the 1990s to establish the HOPE scholarship program.