Congressman Sanford Bishop

Representing the 2nd District of Georgia


Apr 26, 2017
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Last night, Congressman Sanford D. Bishop, Jr. (D-GA) honored the life and contributions of the late Congressman Dawson Mathis on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives by reading the below statement into the Congressional Record. Following the statement, Congressman Bishop led the full U.S. House of Representatives in a moment of silence in recognition of Congressman Mathis.


Mr. Bishop of Georgia. Mr. Speaker, it is with a heavy heart and solemn remembrance that I rise today to pay tribute to an outstanding public servant and friend of longstanding, the Honorable Dawson Mathis. Sadly, Congressman Mathis passed away on Monday, April 17, 2017. A memorial service will be held on Saturday, April 29, 2017 at 2:00 p.m. in Nashville, Georgia. 

A Georgia man through and through, Dawson Mathis was born on November 30, 1940 in Berrien County to Marvin Wilbur Mathis and Nell Dawson Abell. He attended South Georgia College (now South Georgia State College) in Douglas. Before seeking public office, Dawson made a name for himself as the anchor and news director at WALB-TV in Albany, Georgia from 1964 until 1970.

That year, the young 29-year-old Dawson was elected to represent Georgia’s Second Congressional District in the United States House of Representatives. He served on the House Agriculture Committee, where he was a staunch advocate for the farmers, ranchers, and producers of the district and the nation. He was known for working with lawmakers across the aisle to find common ground that would best serve the interests of Americans across the country.

In 1980, Congressman Mathis ran unsuccessfully for the United States Senate. After being defeated in 1982 to regain his House seat, Congressman Mathis became a lobbyist in Washington, D.C., advocating on behalf of groups including Georgia peanut growers.

George Washington Carver once said, "No individual has any right to come into the world and go out of it without leaving behind distinct and legitimate reasons for having passed through it." Indeed, Congressman Dawson Mathis devoted many years of dedicated service to the people of Georgia through his meaningful contribution of energy, skill, and genuine passion, and for it, he will be remembered for years to come.

On a personal note, Congressman Mathis was one of my predecessors in serving the Second Congressional District of Georgia and I was blessed with his friendship, counsel, and mentorship over the years. Congressman Mathis was a great representative for Southwest Georgia and Rural America and I looked up to him as an example of how a public servant should serve his constituents.

Mr. Speaker, my wife Vivian and I, along with the more than 730,000 residents of Georgia’s Second Congressional District, salute Congressman Dawson Mathis for his outstanding public service and his everlasting commitment to improving the quality of life for our citizens. I ask my colleagues in the House of Representatives to join us in extending our deepest condolences to Congressman Mathis’s family and friends during this difficult time. We pray that they will be consoled and comforted by an abiding faith and the Holy Spirit in the days, weeks and months ahead.