In memoriam: Owen B. Pickett, alumnus, former congressman

Owen B. Pickett

Owen B. Pickett (Image courtesy of Richmond Times-Dispatch)

BLACKSBURG, Va., Oct. 29, 2010 – Owen B. Pickett, a 1952 Virginia Tech graduate who served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1987 to 2001, died on Wednesday, Oct. 27, 2010. He was 80.

Born Aug. 31, 1930, in Richmond, Va., Pickett graduated from Henry Clay High School in Ashland, Va., in 1947. He earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration in 1952 from Virginia Polytechnic Institute (now Virginia Tech). As an undergraduate, he was a member of the corps of cadets and Alpha Kappa Psi, the business fraternity.

In June 1955, Pickett received his law degree from the University of Richmond. He practiced law in Richmond until moving to Virginia Beach in July 1965 and becoming active in politics.

In November 1971, he was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates, where he served until 1986. The Democrat was a member of the Appropriations Committee, Privileges and Elections Committee, Health, Welfare, and Institutions Committee, and Chesapeake and Its Tributaries Committee.

In 1986, Pickett was elected to represent Virginia’s 2nd Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives, going on to earn reelection six times before retiring in 2001. During his tenure, he was a member of the Armed Services Committee and Resources Committee.

In 1993, Pickett was honored with the University Distinguished Achievement Award at Virginia Tech. The annual award recognizes nationally distinguished achievement in a field of enduring significance to society.

Pickett joined the law firm of Troutman, Sanders, Mays, and Valentine, in 2001, focusing on corporate and real estate matters and government-contract consulting.

In a statement, Gov. Bob McDonnell praised Pickett’s passion for service. “That passion was evident when in August he accepted my offer to co-chair our Commission on Military and National Security Facilities,” McDonnell said. “Even in his final months, knowing that his health was failing, Owen volunteered to once again serve the people of Virginia. I will miss Owen Pickett, we all will. He knew what he believed in and he was committed to his ideals.”

Much of the cited biographical information appears in the Owen B. Picket Pre-Congressional Papers held at the Library of Virginia. Read more online.

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