Where are they now? Wadie Deddeh

Where are they now? Wadie Deddeh

Those we lost in 2016

We lost some good ones this year. There’s just not a lot more that I can say. Marian Bergeson was the 21st woman to serve in the California legislature and Sharon Runner was the 99th. George House and John Benoit both had long careers as Highway Patrol officers before joining the legislature. Greg Schmidt played a critical role in guiding the Senate through the term limits era. Each left a mark on the state that will not soon fade.

JANUARY
John A. Busterud – Assemblymember (1955-1962)

MARCH
Nancy Reagan – First Lady of California (1967-1975), First Lady of the United States (1981-1989)

JULY
Sharon Runner – State Assemblymember (2002-2008), State Senator (2011-2012, 2015-2016)
George R. House Jr. – State Assemblymember (1994-2000)

AUGUST
Marian C. Bergeson – State Assemblymember (1978-1984), State Senator (1984-1995)
Gregory P. Schmidt – Secretary of the Senate (1996-2014)

OCTOBER
Tom Hayden – Assemblyman (1982-1992), State Senator (1992-2000)

DECEMBER
Ed Reinecke – Member of Congress (1965-1969), Lieutenant Governor (1969-1974)
John J. Benoit – State Assemblymember (2002-2008), State Senator (2008-2009)

John J. Benoit (1951-2016)

Former State Senator John J. Benoit died Monday at his home in Riverside County. He had been diagnosed with cancer in November. Benoit, a longtime officer with the California Highway Patrol, had a great sense of humor and a lifetime of stories from his career in law enforcement. In his office at the Capitol, he kept a small book filled with traffic tickets that he had written. One ticket, signed by a well-known young socialite and hotel heiress, confirmed that Benoit pulled her over for speeding at more than 100 mph. “It’s my only celebrity autograph” Benoit would joke.

Benoit was also a private pilot who flew regularly between his home and Sacramento. He made his first flight to Sacramento as a legislator in December 2002 to be sworn into office. During the flight, Benoit realized that his route would take him close to airspace that had been closed for the landing of the Space Shuttle Endeavour (finishing up STS-113). According to his telling of the story, he decided to circle just outside the restricted area in the hopes of seeing the landing shuttle. The shuttle came in much faster and at a steeper angle than he had expected and Benoit ended up being much closer to the flightpath than he had any desire to be.

Benoit resigned from the Senate in 2009 after being appointed to the Riverside County Board of Supervisors, ending a stay in Sacramento that was far too short. He will be missed by many friends.

Senator John J. Benoit

Senator John J. Benoit