California Governor George C. Deukmejian passed away on May 8, 2018, and saddened thousands of people. We extend our prayers to his wife Gloria and three children – George, Leslie, and Andrea, plus their children and relatives.
Deukmejian was born Courken George Deukmejian Jr. in Menands, New York. His parents emigrated from the Ottoman Empire in the early 1900s to escape the Armenian Genocide. His father, George Deukmejian, who lost his sister during the Genocide, was a rug merchant born in Gaziantep. Deukmejian’s mother, Alice, was born in Erzurum and worked for Montgomery Ward and later for New York State.
Deukmejian graduated with a B.A in sociology from Siena College in 1949 and received his J.D from St. John’s University in New York in 1952. From 1953 to 1955, he served in the U.S Army as a Captain.
He moved to Long Beach, California in 1955 and met his future wife Gloria. They got married in 1957.
After serving in private business for a few years, he ran for office and in 1962, he was elected to represent Long Beach in the State Assembly.
In 1966, he was elected as a state senator, serving from 1967 to 1979. By 1969, he was Majority Leader of the California State Senate. He won the election for Attorney General in 1978 and served from 1979 to 1983. He was elected Governor of California in 1983 and served until 1991.
He served the government of California for almost 30 years.
He was an admirable and great man, full of integrity, honesty, decency, truthfulness, responsibility. During his tenure he was constantly for law and order, against crime, and unnecessary spending. He was for equality among people and he fought against apartheid in South Africa in support of Nelson Mandela and reversed the position of divesting funds by University of California. His fiscal responsibility put California on the map for erasing budget deficits. Another interesting thing that Deukmejian did, he sold California rice to Japan, surprising many business people.
And many more. Of course, some people did not agree with some of his stands on issues and he never got angry against them.
Almost the entire new media in the U.S and overseas, particularly in California, reflected on Deukmejian’s legacy.
He was also involved in Armenian community activities as time permitted. He was the keynote speaker at the event honoring His Holiness Vazken I, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of all Armenians, in Los Angeles at the Sports Palace.
I was honored when Deukmejian was the keynote speaker at a banquet on my 35 years of community service in 1991.
In Long Beach, a $343 million Court House was built in 2013, in his honor and named Governor George Deukmejian Court House.
Thank you Governor Deukmejian for all you have done for California and the Armenian community, by instilling pride in the people.