Former New Mexico Governor  Bill Richardson Dies At 75; Funeral Arrangements Announced

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.


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.”

Links to quoted news sources are here:


Funeral arrangements have been announced by the Richardson Center for former Governor Bill Richardson who died on Friday, September 1 at his summer home in Massachusetts. Those plans include a funeral mass to be officiated by Archdiocese of Santa Fe Archbishop John Wester.  The announcement states:

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.

The Richardson Center did not announce where the former Governor will be laid to rest.


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Pete Dinelli was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He is of Italian and Hispanic descent. He is a 1970 graduate of Del Norte High School, a 1974 graduate of Eastern New Mexico University with a Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration and a 1977 graduate of St. Mary's School of Law, San Antonio, Texas. Pete has a 40 year history of community involvement and service as an elected and appointed official and as a practicing attorney in Albuquerque. Pete and his wife Betty Case Dinelli have been married since 1984 and they have two adult sons, Mark, who is an attorney and George, who is an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). Pete has been a licensed New Mexico attorney since 1978. Pete has over 27 years of municipal and state government service. Pete’s service to Albuquerque has been extensive. He has been an elected Albuquerque City Councilor, serving as Vice President. He has served as a Worker’s Compensation Judge with Statewide jurisdiction. Pete has been a prosecutor for 15 years and has served as a Bernalillo County Chief Deputy District Attorney, as an Assistant Attorney General and Assistant District Attorney and as a Deputy City Attorney. For eight years, Pete was employed with the City of Albuquerque both as a Deputy City Attorney and Chief Public Safety Officer overseeing the city departments of police, fire, 911 emergency call center and the emergency operations center. While with the City of Albuquerque Legal Department, Pete served as Director of the Safe City Strike Force and Interim Director of the 911 Emergency Operations Center. Pete’s community involvement includes being a past President of the Albuquerque Kiwanis Club, past President of the Our Lady of Fatima School Board, and Board of Directors of the Albuquerque Museum Foundation.