SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – Hundreds gathered at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi in downtown Santa Fe for the funeral service for governor Richardson. Among those in attendance, former president Bill Clinton.  

The catholic mass for Richardson lasted about two hours. The former president gave nearly a forty-minute eulogy in his honor saying he was a kind person. 

“The people of New Mexico should be grateful today that he served you so well and should be proud of him. He did a remarkable job in every one of his public responsibilities, as a congressman, as a governor, as ambassador to the UN…He was always trying to make things better. Always,” says former president Bill Clinton.  

He spoke about Richardson’s work ethic and his impact as a U.N. Ambassador and Secretary of Energy. Clinton walked hand-in-hand with Richardson’s widow, Barbara. The mass was open to the public. The line to enter the cathedral stretched around the building as hundreds filed inside. Close friends say they will never forget Richardson’s kindness. 

“He made a difference. That’s a hard thing to do in life today. He made a difference, he cared, he loved New Mexico…He used to have a great sense of humor, laughed from his belly and just made a difference in the world and how can anyone underestimate the value of that today,” says friend, Llewellyn Werner. 

About a thousand people were inside the cathedral for the service. A reception for Richardson was hosted after the mass at the Capitol Rotunda.  

On Thursday, U.S. Representatives Teresa Leger Fernandez, Melanie Stansbury, and Gabe Vasquez released the following joint statement:

“Governor Bill Richardson was a mentor to so many, an inspiration to New Mexicans, and is a man worthy of the legacy he left behind. As we carry forward many of the Governor’s priorities in Congress and grieve for his family, we are proud to memorialize his time serving our nation. We are saddened we cannot go home to attend his funeral service, but Congress is in deep debate on appropriations. We know that Bill would have stayed in Washington, D.C. to fight for funding, our New Mexico communities, and against a government shutdown. We will honor his spirit of public service and legacy by fulfilling our duties in Congress.”

Richardson was elected as New Mexico’s 30th governor, holding office from 2003 to 2011. Prior to his role as the state’s chief executive, Richardson served as a federal lawmaker in the U.S. House of Representatives from January 1983 through February 1997, representing Northern New Mexico in the state’s 3rd Congressional District.

Following his stint in Congress, Richardson later went on to serve as a U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations under President Bill Clinton. He then lead the U.S. Department of Energy between 1998 and 2001 through the end of Clinton’s second term.

Richardson’s political career continued beyond his last publicly elected role as New Mexico’s governor. Since 2011, the Democrat has worked through the “Richardson Center for Global Engagement,” often focused on prisoner and hostage release negotiations outside of the United States. Most recently, Richardson was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.

Richardson died on September 1 at the age of 75 at his summer home in Chatham, Massachusetts.