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Longtime Senate staffer Melinda Melendez died Wednesday following a stroke. She was 61.

The senior education consultant to Democratic Sen. Gloria Romero devoted nearly 30 years to a career crafting state education policy.

Melendez first joined the Legislature in 1982, working as a senior consultant to the Assembly Ways and Means Committee. She worked for numerous offices and committees, including serving as higher education adviser to former Assembly Speakers Antonio Villaraigosa and Robert Hertzberg and as principal education consultant for the Senate Office of Research. She also worked as a professor and as a legislative advocate for the Association of California School Administrators.

Born in the San Joaquin Valley town of Dinuba, Melendez attended San Jose State University, received a master's in education from CSU Sacramento and completed doctoral coursework at Stanford University's School of Education.

Romero press secretary Teala Schaff remembered Melendez as a "consummate teacher of anyone lucky enough to meet her and a true hippie at heart with an earthly appreciation for everyone and everything."

"Of the multitude of accomplishments and titles listed on her resume, one thing it does not say loudly enough is her resolute grace," Schaff wrote in an e-mail.

Melendez is survived by her son Joaquin Peterson, her daughter-in-law Donna and her granddaughter Madeleine.

Visitation will be held on Friday, Jan 29 from 6-9:00 p.m. with a Vigil Service at 7 p.m. at Cusimano Family Colonial Mortuary in Mountain View. A Funeral has been scheduled for Sat, Jan. 30 at noon at St. Simons Catholic Church in Los Altos. More information on the services can be found here.


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