Local lawmakers remember delegate and professor Pete Giesen

April 7, 2021

By Caitlin Piemme
Published: Apr. 6, 2021 at 5:42 PM EDT

HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) — Valley lawmakers are mourning the loss of former Virginia Delegate Pete Giesen, who died last week.

State Senator Mark Obenshain reflected on their time spent together and the legacy Giesen leaves behind here in the Shenandoah Valley.

“He was really instrumental, I would say, in the realignment of Virginia politics that took place in the 1970s and 1980s, and turned Virginia from a one-party state to a two-party state,” Obenshain said.

Obenshain also shared that Geisen was a friend to four generations of Obenshains, and they both have a family legacy of lawmakers.

Like Obenshain, Delegate Kirk Cox remained close with Giesen as he moved on to teach politics at James Madison University.

“He loved life. I never saw him without a smile on his face. He loved Virginia, he loved JMU, he loved just being part of the process,” said Cox. “He felt like that, you know this experiment, you know this grand experiment of representative democracy needed to be preserved.”

In addition to the change he brought to Virginia politics, Obenshain says he remembers him for the impact he had on his students at James Madison University.

“Pete will be remembered for building bridges, he’ll be remembered for standing up for what he believed in and for making sure that a new generation of college students understood a little bit about Virginia political history,” said Obenshain.

Cox adds Giesen was a great role model of what a public servant should be.

“That’s what people remember, that good, happy, positive man he was, in frankly an era we don’t see that enough anymore,” Cox said. “And how he got along with everyone. So that to me was his legacy.”

A memorial resolution for Giesen will be considered and passed at the next general assembly.

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