We here at Fresno State are mourning the loss of one of our most distinguished alums, Dr. Peter G. Mehas, who dedicated his life to education at all levels. Pete was just days from his 74th birthday when he passed away unexpectedly on Sept. 27.

Pete was a loyal Bulldogs supporter throughout his life. After transferring from Fresno City College, he was a member of the undefeated 1961 Fresno State football team. Pete started his career as a teacher in Fresno and worked in various educational positions on the local, state and national levels. Since 2007, he served as a member of the California State University Board of Trustees.

The week before his death, Pete and I traveled together to and from Long Beach for the CSU trustees’ meeting. It was my first meeting as Fresno State president and his presence was reassuring as I navigated two days of important discussions. While we discussed many educational issues and shared stories of our personal lives, the most striking observation I had during our time together was how beloved Pete was.

Even at the airport, waiting for our flights, everyone seemed to know Pete. A number of people came up to say hello — just a hint of the impact he’s had on the lives of so many, myself included.

I was honored to first meet Pete in 1997 as part of the interview process for a position on the founding team for University of California, Merced. I knew from the minute we met that we would work closely together over the years. Sure enough, 16 years later, our paths crossed again when Pete was the head of the search committee that I met with before being selected as Fresno State’s eighth president earlier this year.

Pete was a man of great character, who used his gifts to serve others every day. As the co-chair of my transition team, he provided more help and support than I could ever ask for.

He also was a great family man, speaking often of his wife Demi, their two daughters Alethea Crespo and Andreanna Mehas and his twin granddaughters. Just recently, he told me how happy he was that his daughter had begun the teacher credential program at Fresno State this fall.

I’m saddened we have lost such a profound advocate of education, and I will greatly miss Pete’s wisdom, warmth and unwavering Bulldog spirit. But I assure you, the impact of Pete’s lifetime work will be felt for years to come from the students, teachers and educational leaders he helped mold along the way.