West Virginia Lawmakers of both parties are mourning the loss of Republican Del. Frank Deem. The Wood County politician was a fixture at the Capitol for several decades, having served in the Legislature a total of 48 years between the House and Senate.
Deem was born in Harrisville on March 20, 1928 and was first elected to the House of Delegates in 1954. He was first elected to the Senate in 1964 and served off and on in both chambers since then.
House Speaker Roger Hanshaw noted Deem’s sharp personality, which often was spotlighted in floor speeches.
“For those who had the privilege of working with him in the Legislature, I can say you always knew where you stood with Frank. He left no opinion unstated, and was not afraid to tell you when he thought you were wrong,” Hanshaw said. “ He had no tolerance for the gamesmanship that often clouds modern politics, and his direct, colorful floor speeches served to cut through the nonsense of many debates and earned him respect on both sides of the aisle.”
On the other side of the rotunda, Senate President Mitch Carmichael also offered his condolences to the family and noted that Deem would often visit members of the Senate, long after he found himself back in the House of Delegates.
“Throughout his 48 years of service to the State of West Virginia, he spent 32 of them as a Senator, and was a frequent visitor with our members after he returned to the House of Delegates in 2014,” Carmichael said. “He was a statesman of the highest order, a proud Navy veteran, and a tireless advocate for making West Virginia a great place to live, work, and raise a family. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Becky, and the entire Deem family, as they remember the life and legacy of a truly outstanding West Virginian.”
But Deem isn’t just being revered by members of his own party. House Minority Leader Tim Miley and Minority Whip Mike Caputo, both Democrats offered statements upon news of Deem’s passing.
“Frank possessed a wealth of institutional knowledge and was an outspoken public servant who steadfastly held to his beliefs even when they were not popular. Frank always spoke his mind- and legislators on both sides of the aisle listened when he spoke,” Miley said. “Even if you did not agree with Frank, you respected him. It was an honor to serve with him in the House of Delegates. He will be missed by many at the Capitol.”
"West Virginia has lost a true public servant. Frank was a friend and colleague for many years. I will miss his candor, his sense of humor, and his love for our great state. My heart goes out to his wife, Becky, and to all those who had the privilege to know Frank,” Caputo said.
Senate Minority Leader Roman Prezioso said he was saddened to hear of Deem’s passing and noted their interactions serving together in both chambers of the Legislature.
“I served with Frank in both the House and the Senate and I felt that we had a great relationship. Frank was a statesman — he debated the issues and made decisions from his heart. I respected that about him, even when we disagreed. Frank was an asset to the House and the Senate, no matter which body he served in,” Prezioso said. “He debated with professionalism and was always willing to lend a helping hand. Frank gave Wood County much to be proud of during his years of service. It was an honor to have served with him.”
Deem died Wednesday at Camden Clark Memorial Hospital in Parkersburg and is survived by his wife Becky, children and grandchildren.
He was 90.