SANTA FE, N.M. — Former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson has died, according to a statement from the Richardson Center for Global Engagement. He was 75. Richardson reportedly died in his sleep Friday night at his summer home in Chatham, Massachusetts.
Mickey Bergman, vice president of the Richardson Center, released the following statement:
“Governor Richardson passed away peacefully in his sleep last night. 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.
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.
However, his enduring legacy is his post-government volunteer work, where his nonprofit foundation worked to free people who were held hostage or wrongfully detained abroad.
There was no person that Governor 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.
Right now our focus is on supporting his family, including his wife Barbara of over 50 years, who was with him when he passed. We will share further information as it becomes available.”
Bill Richardson has been a mainstay in New Mexico Politics since the 1980’s. He was the first representative elected to New Mexico’s 3rd Congressional District when it was established in 1983. He served as the congressman until 1997.
In 1997, Richardson was appointed as Ambassador to the United Nations serving through 1998. He was later appointed as United States Secretary of Energy by then-President Bill Clinton. He held that office until 2001.
In 2007, then-Governor Bill Richardson announced a run for President. He would drop out of the presidential race in Jan. 2008.
In Dec. 2008 then-president-elect Barack Obama named Richardson as his choice for U.S. Secretary of Commerce. He later withdrew citing a federal investigation.
Richardson each time remained governor of New Mexico through the end of his second term.
Richardson held no other political office in the state after serving as New Mexico’s Governor.
PRIVATE CITIZEN DIPLOMATE
Richardson was recently nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize for his work to free hostages and political prisoners in foreign countries. He had played a role in the release of 15 prisoners in the past 14 months and most recently WNBA player Brittney Griner.
Over the last three decades, Richardson traveled the world negotiating and securing the release of American prisoners and hostages in Bangladesh, North Korea, Sudan, Colombia, and Iraq. The nonprofit organization the Richardson Center was created to support the former governor in facilitating dialogue and global peace between countries with strained diplomatic relations.
In recent years, he spent much of his time as a private diplomat representing the growing number of American families seeking to free their loved ones unjustly detained abroad. He filled a whole biography with tales of his high-stakes meetings with tribal leaders and tyrants, writing about brokering deals with Fidel, Saddam, Hugo and “a Kim or two.”
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Wednesday, September 13, 2023 – Lying in State at the New Mexico Capitol Rotunda from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. 411 S. Capitol St. Santa Fe, NM 87501, open to the public.
Thursday, September 14, 2023 – Mass of Christian Burial at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi by Archbishop John C. Wester. 131 Cathedral Pl. Santa Fe, NM 87501open to the public.
Thursday, September 14, 2023 – Reception at the New Mexico Capitol Rotunda hosted by Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham. 411 S. Capitol St. Santa Fe, NM 87501. The reception will be 1 p.m. to 2 p.m and open to the public.