We'll Miss You, Pete
Tuesday, October 09, 2012
- Organization: Georgia Legal Services Program®
- Source: Georgia
On October 1, 2012, the Columbus, Georgia Bar Association held a memorial service for the Muscogee County attorneys and judges who have passed away this year. Among those memorialized was Pedro “Pete” Quezada.
There were wonderful things said about Pete, but the most significant comment to me was the reference to his commitment to helping low-income clients. His presenter, local attorney Robert Jones, spoke of the fact that his name was listed in the State Bar of Georgia Bar Journal as a Pro Bono Volunteer and that he had an asterisk beside his name. He explained to those in attendance that the asterisk meant that Pete had gone above and beyond the call of pro bono service for indigent clients. He also noted that there were very few volunteers that had an asterisk beside their name. It was no secret that Pete was a friend and supporter of the Columbus office of Georgia Legal Services Program for many, many years. He almost never turned away a pro bono client referred to him.
Pete Quezada was born October 17, 1943 and died on February 15, 2012. He died of a heart attack at his desk. In the words of Attorney Jones, Pete exemplified the “American Dream.” He was born in Mexico and became a naturalized citizen in 1964. He served his country in the United States Army Military Police. Upon leaving the military, Pete became a member of the Columbus Police Department and while serving in that capacity enrolled in law school. He worked as a police officer during the day and would drive the 110 miles to Atlanta to attend Woodrow Wilson Law School at night. He received his Juris Doctor in 1982. In 1984 he opened a private law practice in Columbus, Georgia.
Pete also helped, in many ways, to bridge the gap between the Hispanic and non-Hispanic community here in Columbus.
Over the years, Pete’s health began to wane. However, he never stopped doing what he loved most-- practicing law and helping people. Pete’s law office was in the same building as Georgia Legal Services Program. A couple of years before Pete died, I saw an ambulance pull up to the building and I asked what was going on. I found out that the ambulance was for Pete. I called his wife, Heidi, who was his secretary, and she told me that she thought Pete had what was either a stroke or a light heart attack. I made a mental note call the hospital the next day to check on him. I did call the next day, in the afternoon, and was advised that Pete had already checked out. I called Heidi to confirm what I had been told and she said that Pete told the doctor that he did not have time to rest in a hospital because he had clients that needed him. Sure enough, on the following day, Pete was back at his desk. Eventually, his heart gave out and the community lost a good person.
His obituary mentioned that, “He was well known for his work as a public defender and known for helping those most in need, especially those of little means.”
We miss Pete. Our community is so much the better for his life and his service in the military, as a police officer, as a public defender, and as a volunteer lawyer. And we can only hope that his dedication to serving low-income clients will have an impact on others who hold the keys to the courthouse.
About the Author
Rhudine "Dina" Nelson is a paralegal and pro bono coordinator for the Columbus Regional Office of Georgia Legal Services Program.