Hall Of Fame: Lasting Influence

Charles Loudermilk and Monica Pearson join Georgia Trend’s Most Influential Hall of Fame.


R. Charles “Charlie” Loudermilk

Founder & Chairman Emeritus, Aaron’s, Inc.
Age: 85

It is the classic American success story. An Atlanta native, Charlie Loudermilk decided early on he wanted to be a millionaire and saw the rental business as his way to achieve it.

“I had no idea what I’d be renting,” he says. “But I was in the restaurant business, so tables, chairs, china and silver seemed to make sense.”

Loudermilk borrowed $500 to purchase folding chairs, which he rented for ten cents apiece. Gradually he added other products – party tents, sickroom equipment, furniture, home appliances and consum-er electronics. It was a novel concept.

“There were two different demands,” says Loudermilk. “We always gave renters the option to own [what they rented]. People have to un-derstand that everything is sold – we’re in the selling business – we just have a different financing plan.”

In September 2012 Loudermilk stepped down from Aaron’s after leading the company for 57 years. At age 85, who could blame him? He left behind a $3 billion company, close to 2,000 stores, more than 11,000 employees and more than 1.5 million customers. He will continue his involvement in the community and philanthropy; he has donated more than $18 million to local charities and causes.

Loudermilk’s advice to young entrepreneurs is simple. “Find a business that you love, something you want to get up and do the next day,” he says. “You’re going to take some bumps in the road, but you live with them because you love what you do.” – Patty Rasmussen

Monica Pearson

Former News Anchor, WSB-TV
Age: 65

Having sat in the anchor’s chair at ABC affiliate WSB-TV for 37 years before her retirement in July 2012, Mon-ica Pearson was synonymous with Atlanta television news. Pear-son, 65, had staying pow-er in a business where younger and newer is often perceived as better. 

“Atlanta wasn’t just the right place for me, I think I was the right person for the place,” she says. “I really think my staying ability came from what I do best, and that’s getting out in the community. People got to know me. I wasn’t just the lady on television.” 

Getting outside the studio walls was a deliberate decision on Pearson’s part. She embraced viewers, and they embraced her.

Pearson’s first love was print. She worked for The Louisville Times, her hometown paper, then moved to television at WHAS in Louisville before coming to Atlanta. It was a bold move for both WSB and Pearson, who became the first African-American, and first female, evening news anchor in Atlanta’s television market. 

Retirement is merely a redirection of Pearson’s indefatigable energies. She’s working on her master’s degree in mass media studies at the University of Georgia and plans to teach, write books and act. She also blogs about travel and writes a quarterly column for Southern Seasons magazine.

In addition to winning 35 Emmys, Pearson influenced a generation. 

“When you have adults come up to you and say, ‘I’m a journalist because you came and spoke to my class in the fifth grade,’ that’s your legacy,” she says. – Patty Rasmussen


Otis Brumby
The Marietta Daily Journal & Neighbor Newspapers

Bobby Cox
Retired Manager
Atlanta Braves


Ray Anderson
Interface, Inc.

David Ratcliffe
Former CEO/Chairman/President
Southern Company

Franklin Skinner
Retired CEO/Chairman
BellSouth Telecommunications


Dr. Joseph Lowery
Minister, Civil Rights Leader

Bill Shipp
Journalist, Political Columnist


Spurgeon Richardson
Former President/CEO
Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau


Hank Aaron
Baseball Legend
755 Restaurant Corp.

Mack Mattingly
Former U.S. Senator
Former Assistant
Secretary General (NATO)
Former U.S. Ambassador (Seychelles)

Carl Patton
Former President
Georgia State University

Herman J. Russell
H.J. Russell & Company


A.D. “Pete” Correll
Former Chairman/CEO
Georgia-Pacific Corp.

Bernie Marcus
Co-founder, The Home Depot

William S. Morris III
Morris Communications Co.


James Blanchard
Retired Board Chairman & CEO
Synovus Financial Corp.

Zell Miller
Senior Strategic Advisor
McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP
Former Governor
U.S. Senator

Betty Siegel
Former President
Kennesaw State University


Tom Cousins
Former Board Chairman
Cousins Properties Inc.

Vince Dooley
Athletic Director Emeritus
University of Georgia


Tommy Irvin
Former Georgia Commissioner of Agriculture

Manuel Maloof
Longtime DeKalb County CEO and Commissioner

Sam Massell
President, Buckhead Coalition
Former Mayor, City of Atlanta

J. Mack Robinson
Businessman, Philanthropist

Ted Turner
Founder, CNN, TNT and TBS
Environmentalist and Philanthropist


Griffin Bell
Former U.S. Attorney General
Former U.S. Circuit Court Judge

S. Truett Cathy
Founder, Chick-fil-A

Jimmy Carter
Nobel Peace Prize Winner
Former President

Rosalynn Carter
Former First Lady
Mental Health Advocate

Thomas B. Murphy
Longtime Speaker, Georgia House of Representatives

Sam Nunn
Former U.S. Senator
National Defense Authority

John C. Portman Jr.
Architect, Developer and Entrepreneur

Carl Sanders
Former Governor, Attorney

Dr. Louis Sullivan
Founding Dean, Morehouse School of Medicine
Former U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services

Andrew Young
Former Mayor, City of Atlanta
Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations
Civic Leader

Categories: Business Industry, Features, People