Pete Mehas, long time Central Valley education leader, has died

FRESNO, Calif.

Family spokesman and close friend Mike Wood said Peter Mehas and wife Demi had just returned from a trip to Eastern Europe and Greece. Mehas said he noticed minor discomfort and a doctor friend recommended that he go to St. Agnes Hospital to be seen by a doctor.

Wood said, while at the hospital, he had just asked Demi to get him some playing cards for a hearts game, when he suffered a ruptured thoracic aortic aneurysm, and passed away quickly and painlessly.

According to CSU, Pete Mehas, a Fresno native, received his bachelor's degree from California State University, Fresno in 1962, his master's degree from UCLA in 1967, and his doctorate in education from the University of Southern California in 1979. He was an All American, All Conference center at Fresno City College and played on Fresno State's undefeated 1961 Mercy Bowl team.

Mehas began his professional career as an instructor at Fresno's Roosevelt High School in 1963. He later joined the Clovis Unified School District where he worked his way up from assistant principal at Clovis High (1968-69) to principal 1969-75) to assistant superintendent (1975-78) and to associate superintendent (1978-87).

From 1984 to 1987, Mehas established and served as the legislative advocate in Sacramento and Washington, D.C. for the State Center Community College District, Fresno County, and Modoc County Offices of Education and a consortium of 36 school districts throughout Central California.

From 1984 to 1987, Mehas established and served as the legislative advocate in Sacramento and Washington, D.C. for the State Center Community College District, Fresno County, and Modoc County Offices of Education and a consortium of 36 school districts throughout Central California.

In 1987, Mehas was appointed by Governor Deukmejian as his chief advisor on matters relating to all public and private education in the state. He also served as the director of the Governor's Office of Education Planning and Policy Committee. His primary responsibilities were to develop policy positions for the governor on education issues, to track legislation related to education, and to serve as liaison between the Governor's Office and the education community. He has appeared on national television's NBC "Today" show and ABC "Good Morning America" representing Governor Deukmejian's views on education. In 1990, Governor Deukmejian appointed.Mehas to the State Board of Education.

Prior to assuming his position with the Deukmejian administration, Mehas was a member of the State Commission on Student Loan Assumption, the Department of Education's Committee on Quality Indicators of Secondary Schools, the Large Suburban School Curriculum and Legislative Committee, and the State Industrial Education Council.

Mehas served on the U.S. Secretary of Education's National Advisory Committee on Accreditation and Institutional Eligibility; the Governor's California Commission on Educational Quality; the National Governor's Association Education Advisory Committee; the Constitutional Rights Foundation and state representative to the Steering Committee of the California Policy Seminar. Mehas chaired the AB 9 Task Force to develop criteria for low performing schools, was a representative to the President's Education Summit in Charlottesville, Virginia in 1989, participated in the State Superintendent of Public Instruction's Education Summit and the 1997 Presidential Summit on the Future of American's Youth in Philadelphia, and California Attorney General Daniel E. Lundgren's Policy Council on Violence Prevention in 1994.

In September 1991, President George Bush appointed Dr. Mehas to the advisory commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans. Other members included pro-golfer, Nancy Lopez; Peter H. Coors, President of Coors Brewing Co.; and Raul Yzaguirres, head of the National Council of La Raza. In 1992, Dr. Mehas was a speaker at the National Republican Convention in Houston. He later served as Regional Co-Chair to Elect George W. Bush for President. In 1998, Mehas was appointed by Governor Pete Wilson to the California Community College Board of Governors. Mehas was appointed in 2005 by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to serve on his Advisory Committee on Education Excellence, and the Governance Sub-Committee, which addresses the functioning and effectiveness of governance structures.

Currently, Mehas serves on the Fresno Compact Executive Board, CSU Fresno President's Education Commission and Dean of Education Advisory Committee, UC Advisory Board, American Hellenic Education Progressive Association, California County Superintendents Educational Services Association, CSUF Wrestling Booster Board and Bulldog Foundation Member, President of the Fresno County Athletic Hall of Fame, Phi Delta Kappa, Community Advisor for the Junior League of Fresno, Inter-Agency, Congressman Radanovich Advisory Committee -- Education Chairman.

Past boards he has served on include the California Consortium for Visual Arts Education, Advisory Board -- Fresno Police Activities League, Fresno Historical Society Board, Fresno Metropolitan Museum Board, YWCA Advisory Board, Youth Fair Chance Board, UC San Francisco Medical Education Advisory Board, Board President New United Way, Valley Business Conference Executive Board, Sanctuary Board of the Association of California School Administrators, co-founder Leadership Fresno, Marjaree Mason Center Advisory Board, international Supreme Council Order of DeMoley Legion of Valor, California Interscholastic Federation Lifetime Membership and President of Valley Children's Hospital Board.

In 1990, Dr. Mehas was the first recipient of the Fresno Public Education Fund's Gold Star Alumni Award, and, in 1993, received the New United Way's Annual George A. Osborne Award and the Rotary's Paul Harris Fellowship. He also received the 1992 Outstanding Public Service Award by the California Farm Bureau Federation and the California Foundation for Agriculture, USC School of Education Distinguished Lecturer, 1998 CSU Fresno School of Social Science Distinguished Alumni Award, and 1999 Fresno City College Distinguished Alumni Award. In 2001, Dr. Mehas was awarded an honorary life membership in the National Congress of Parents and Teachers, was recognized as the 2001 Breaking Barriers for Children Award honoree, and received the Rose Ann Vuich Ethical Leadership Award. Mehas received the 2002 "Top Dog," Distinguished Alumni Award from CSU Fresno. In 2003, he was honored by UCP as the recipient of the prestigious "Reason to Believe" Award. He also received the NAACP President's Award at the Image Awards held in March 2003. In 2005 Mehas received the Fresno Compact Harold Haak Award, was honored as the Kremen School of Education and Human Development Noted Alumni recipient for significant contributions in the field of education, and received the 2005 California Community College Distinguished Alumni Award.

Dr. Mehas holds a lifetime California Standard Secondary Teaching Credential and General Elementary Credential, as well as a lifetime School Service Credential in General Administration from California State University, Fresno.

In June 1990, Dr. Mehas was elected Fresno County Superintendent of Schools and was easily re-elected for a second term in 1994. In 1998 and 2002 he ran unopposed for his third and fourth terms. In all four elections, he had the unanimous endorsement of the Democratic and Republican legislators from the Fresno area.

Mehas is survived by his wife, Demi, and two daughters, Alethea and Andreanna.


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