"He lived his life believing he could make a difference for the good of other people. He did so much for so many," she said.
Perdue says the two talked about the best way to die after Malone's wife passed away from cancer two years ago.
"Fast and painless and not knowing it was coming, not having to wait and not having to make everyone around you so sad," she recalled.
And that's exactly how Malone died: in a chair in his backyard, reading the paper after cutting the grass on Saturday morning.
But Malone didn't die before seeing some major milestones - milestones he helped pave the way for as a member of the minority.
"He was able to see the nation's first African-American in the White House. He was able to see this state install the first female governor, Lord. These are testimonies, Lord, to his hard work," offered great nephew Travis Mitchell.
That work spanned a 40-year career of public service that included overseeing the merger of Wake County and Raleigh schools, serving as chairman of the county commission, and finally as a state senator.
Leaders from all over the state came to say goodbye.
"We love you. We miss you. And we can only offer God's speed," said Senate Pro Tem Marc Basnight.
Malone was buried at Carolina Biblical Gardens next to his wife Susan.