Loved ones pay tribute to Valley education leader Pete Mehas

FRESNO, Calif.

Mehes, a longtime local education leader has died. Saturday those who knew Pete Mehas best shared fond memories and paid tribute to his tremendous contributions to the Central Valley. The Fresno native leaves behind his wife, two daughters and countless close friends.

"I'll miss his singing; he always had a joyful, joyful song always, I'll miss his hugs and his bright shining smile," Bill Smittcamp said.

Friend and family spokesperson Mike Woods said "He was motivated by principal and I can say this without fear of contradiction. He always wanted to and did the right thing."

Woods and Smittcamp knew Mehas for decades. Their families vacationed together and on every trip Mehas was always the life of the party.

"Peter is one fun guy and always has been. Whether it's in a small group or a large groups, he is a personality. He loves to interact with people, he loves to get involved," Fresno State Vice President Peter Smits said.

Mehas will be remembered most for his huge contributions as a Valley educator. Early in his career he served four terms as the Fresno County Superintendent of Schools, and his accomplishments there are still felt today.

"Peter was probably our best and strongest advocate for over 16 years," Larry Powell said.

Mehas was also the ultimate Bulldog. He graduated from Fresno State and still served on the CSU Board of Trustees.

"Seventy Percent of our students, first in their family to go to college, well that's a big experience and many of those students couldn't go anywhere else if they didn't go to Fresno State. Pete fought to make it a great place and he fought to make it accessible," Powell said.

Mehas was appointed by governor Deukmejian as his Chief Education Advisor. He also helped governor Schwarzenegger. Even past President George Bush has called on him for his expertise.

Although he earned many accolades Mehas was always motivated by his own passion to learn how to better the future for students in our area

"He thought he could make a difference and he did," Powell said.

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