Former Del. State Sen., Finance Secretary Richard Cordrey – a Millsboro Native – Has Passed Away


Millsboro native Richard Cordrey, who served a lengthy tenure as State Senate President pro tempore as well as four years as Secretary of Finance, has died.

Cordrey was 88 years old.

Cordrey was first elected to the House before serving in the Senate from 1972 until 1996. His time as Secretary of Finance occurred during the administration of former Governor Ruth Ann Minner.

Cordrey is recognized for helping to establish the rainy day fund as well as the framework that allowed Delaware to become a national center of banking activity.

Governor John Carney, D-Del. released this statement as he directed that state flags at Delaware government buildings and facilities fly at half-staff until sunset this Saturday:

“I was sad this week to learn of the passing of Senator Richard Cordrey – a one-of-a-kind leader in the Delaware General Assembly. Senator Cordrey is the longest serving Senate President Pro Temp in Delaware history, serving for 19 years. He was the ultimate southern Delaware gentleman who was well liked and respected by Delawareans across our state. He brought a certain grace to his work as a leader in the State Senate and as Finance Secretary for Governor Minner. His influence on Delaware’s economy – especially his efforts on financial stability – will have a lasting impact on our state. Senator Cordrey also used his experience as a Sussex County farmer to support Delaware agriculture and to bring a conservative approach to fiscal matters. The State of Delaware is in a stronger place because of his service. Senator Cordrey will be sorely missed.”

U.S. Senator Chris Coons, D-Del. released this statement:

“I am sad to learn of the passing of former state Senator Richard Cordrey.

“Cordrey, a farmer for more than 50 years, understood the value of hard work and dedication, and he brought those principles to the politics of Delaware. After a start in the state House, he moved to the state Senate and became its longest-serving President Pro Tempore. Retiring from the position in 1996, he continued to serve the First State under Governor Ruth Ann Minner as her Secretary of Finance.

“I got to know Rich and Sandy early in my public service career. I respected his work ethic, his dedication to Delaware, and his decades of service to Millsboro and our state. His outstanding service is still felt to this day, and I, along with Delawareans across the state, will miss his impact. Annie and I send our deepest condolences to his surviving sons, Rick and Steve, and to all his grandchildren and great grandchildren.”

A tribute from State Senate President pro tempore David Sokola, D-Newark, on social media:

I am sad to learn of the passing of my former colleague Richard Cordrey – a giant of the General Assembly by every imaginable standard. The longest serving Senate President Pro Tempore in Delaware’s history – and one of the longest serving in the country – Senator Cordrey served nearly three decades in Dover with honor and distinction.

Hailing from Millsboro, Senator Cordrey was fiercely proud of the agrarian Sussex County community he called home, yet worked hard for the betterment of our entire state. His contributions to Delaware’s economic vitality are well known, leading efforts to amend Delaware’s constitution to cap spending at 98 percent of projected revenues, while establishing a “Rainy Day Fund” to be used only for unanticipated emergencies. His leadership on fiscal issues led to him concluding his public service career as Gov. Ruth Ann Minner’s Secretary of Finance.

In 2012, I was proud to vote to name the Delaware Department of Agriculture headquarters after Senator Cordrey – an honor befitting of his commitment to Delaware’s farmers. Today, I am pleased his legacy will live on there, and in the memories of all those who had the privilege to serve alongside him and learn from his gentle demeanor and kindness.

Members of the Delaware State Senate Republican Caucus released this statement on social media:

Senator Cordrey represented the 20th Senate District with great distinction. Upon retirement from the Senate in 1996, he was the longest serving President Pro Tempore; an achievement still unmatched today. Following his tenure in the General Assembly, he served as Secretary of Finance during Governor Ruth Ann Minner’s second term.

We thank Senator Cordrey for his service to our state and to the constituents he represented. His legacy of service is one that will be long remembered by those whom he served. His family is in our thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.