George Deukmejian, the 35th governor of California and a longtime resident of Long Beach, died in his home on May 8 at the age of 89.
The Republican leader, nicknamed “The Iron Duke” for his tight-fisted approach to spending, served two terms as governor, from 1983 to 1991, after a four-year tenure as attorney general of the state. He had previously represented Long Beach in the state assembly and served as a state senator.
In November 2013, the newly built, $339-million, 416,000-square-foot Long Beach courthouse was named in his honor. In an interview with the Signal Tribune after the dedication ceremony, Deukmejian reflected on what the naming meant to him.
“I consider this an honor as great as when I was elected governor,” Deukmejian said. “I truly am grateful to all the people that had a role in deciding that my name should be on the building, and, especially, I’m so grateful to the people in Long Beach and Signal Hill who supported me all the years that I was in public office.”
Seventieth District Assemblymember Patrick O’Donnell (D-Long Beach) on Tuesday called the former governor a great American, a great Californian and a great family man.
“Today, California and Long Beach shed a tear for a man who was always well respected and a class act,” O’Donnell said. “He leaves behind a legacy of hard work and exemplifies why it is important to work across the aisle. My heart goes out to Gloria and his family, who were more important to him than any law he signed. George Deukmejian made a difference, and will be missed.”
California Secretary of State Alex Padilla also issued a statement on Deukmejian’s passing.
“I join Californians across the state in remembering former Governor George Deukmejian and his long record of public service– as a member of both the State Assembly and the State Senate, as attorney general, and as governor,” Padilla said. “He made history as the first Armenian-American elected governor. My thoughts go out to the Deukmejian Family as they mourn their loss.”
California Governor Jerry Brown, who had preceded Deukmejian in the state’s top position, released a comment about him on Twitter.
“George Deukmejian was a popular governor and made friends across the political aisle,” Brown tweeted. “Anne and I join all Californians in expressing our deepest condolences to his family and friends.”