Charlie Loudermilk, Buckhead civic and business leader and major philanthropist, has presented the Atlanta Press Club with a $1 million gift to endow the organization’s series of political candidate debates for the next 10 years.
The announcement was made Thursday night at the end of the inaugural Atlanta Press Club Hall of Fame Awards presentations at the InterContinental Buckhead Hotel, which was attended by several hundred Atlanta area journalists, former journalists and civic leaders.
In making the announcement of the Loudermilk/Young Debate Series, endowed by Loudermilk to honor his close friend former Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young, local new columnist Maria Saporta said, “Our debates will live on forever thanks to Charlie Loudermilk.”
Saporta, a former president of the Press Club, said funds to pay for the debate series had diminished to only $4,000 prior to Loudermilk’s gift.
Addressing the audience, Loudermilk, who founded Buckhead-based Aaron's Inc., said his secretary recently told him that he had a call from Saporta, Andy Young and Tom Johnson and “I knew I probably was in trouble.” They told him they needed his support to fund the political debates.
“The debates are so much fun in Georgia, because politics is so much fun in Georgia,” Loudermilk said, explaining his decision to provide the $1 million gift, which Saporta said should fund the debates for the next 10 years.
The announcement was a surprise ending to an evening in which the Press Club honored six inaugural inductees into its new Hall of Fame.
The Press Club honored Atlanta Journal Sports Editor Furman Bisher, former Atlanta Constitution Editor Henry Grady, former CNN chief executive Tom Johnson, 46-year Atlanta TV journalist John Pruitt, Alexis Scott and the Scott Family who have published the Atlanta Daily World since 1928, and Ted Turner, who founded WTBS in 1970 which pioneered the superstation concept in cable television and the Cable News Network.