Former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson has died at the age of 75.
The Richardson Center for Global Engagement, which he founded and led, said in a statement Saturday that Richardson passed peacefully in his sleep at his home in Chatham, Massachusetts.
"He lived his entire life in the service of others — including both his time in government and his subsequent career helping to free people held hostage or wrongfully detained abroad," the center's vice president, Mickey Bergman, said in a statement.
"There was no person that Gov. Richardson would not speak with if it held the promise of returning a person to freedom. The world has lost a champion for those held unjustly abroad, and I have lost a mentor and a dear friend," he continued.
The Democrat was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize last year for his work helping free detained Americans, including WNBA star Brittney Griner, whom he helped release from Russia.
Seth Wenig / AP
Richardson was elected governor in 2002 and went on to serve two terms before leaving office in 2011. He was the only Hispanic governor in the country at the time and described the role as "the best job I ever had," according to the Associated Press.
Before becoming governor, Richardson was U.N. ambassador and energy secretary under President Bill Clinton, and he served 14 years as a congressman representing northern New Mexico.
Richardson said the most difficult decision of his political life came in 2009, when he voted to repeal the death penalty after previously supporting capital punishment.
Some notable accomplishments during his governorship included a $50,000 minimum annual salary for the most qualified teachers in New Mexico, a minimum wage increase, pre-kindergarten programs for 4-year-olds, renewable energy requirements for utilities, and funding for large infrastructure projects, according to the AP.