Lamar Alexander was born in Maryville, the son of a kindergarten teacher and an elementary school principal. He is a seventh generation Tennessean.
He is the only Tennessean ever to be popularly elected both governor and United States Senator. He chairs the Senate Education and Early Childhood Development Subcommittee, the Senate Energy Subcommittee as well as the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) Caucus. He is a member of the Foreign Relations and Budget Committees.
Sen. Alexander has been U.S. Education Secretary, president of the University of Tennessee, and the Goodman professor at Harvard’s School of Government. He was chairman of President Reagan’s Commission on Americans Outdoors and the National Governor’s Association. In private life, he helped found a company that is now the nation’s largest provider of worksite day care.
In his campaign for governor, Lamar Alexander walked 1,000 miles across Tennessee in his now famous red and black plaid shirt. Once elected, he helped Tennessee become the third largest auto producer and the first state to pay teachers more for teaching well. He started Tennessee’s Governor’s Schools for outstanding students.
He is a classical and country pianist and the author of seven books, including Six Months Off, the story of his family’s life in Australia after he was governor.
Lamar Alexander met Honey Buhler at a staff softball game when he worked for Sen. Howard H. Baker of Tennessee and she worked for Sen. John G. Tower of Texas. They were married in 1969 and have four children. He is an elder in Westminster Presbyterian Church.