Born: James Richard "Rick" Perry (1950-). A fifth generation Texan, Rick Perry grew up on his family's farm in Paint Creek, Texas. In 1968, he left Haskell County to attend Texas A&M University where he served in the Corps of Cadets and as a yell leader. He graduated in 1972 with a degree in Animal Science and immediately joined the United States Air Force. He served as a C-130 pilot for four and one-half years, earning the rank of captain before returning home to join his father in the family's farming and ranching operation. In 1982, Perry married his childhood sweetheart, Anita Thigpen, with whom he has two children.
Perry began his public service career when he was first elected to the Texas House of Representatives from Haskell in 1984. During his three terms in the Legislature he served on the House Appropriations and Calendars committees.
In 1989 the Dallas Morning News named him one of the most effective legislators in the 71st Legislature. The next year he was elected Commissioner of Agriculture. He won reelection in 1994.
In 1998 Perry was elected lieutenant governor. He became governor December 21, 2000 when then-governor George W. Bush resigned to become President. He won re-election in 2002 and again in 2010.