Jerry Apodaca | Courtesy Jeff Apodaca

NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – A former New Mexico governor has died. The current governor issued a statement about his passing.

Former Governor Jerry Apodaca served as the governor of New Mexico in the mid-to-late-70s. Apodaca passed away on April 26, 2023, at age 88.

Jeff Apodaca, the son of Jerry Apodaca, sent a statement to KRQE about his father’s passing.

My father’s legacy was not being the first Latino governor in the country or restructuring NM Government that we know today.

His legacy will be [that] he opened opportunities for people. He was the first governor to appoint Latinos, women, and people of color into leadership roles in NM. After he left politics, he spent 20 years opening doors in corporate America for Latinos and minorities. That’s his legacy.

He was a true JFK Dem. He believed in serving and not making money off the people he serviced!

Jeff Apodaca

Governor Michelle Lujan-Grisham sent out a statement about his death.

I am saddened to hear of the passing of former Governor Jerry Apodaca. As the state’s first Hispanic governor, he paved the way for more New Mexicans to enter public office, making sure that our diversity is better represented in our leadership. He was also a stalwart advocate for the rights of patients and was instrumental in the creation of the state’s first medical cannabis program nearly half a century ago. I am grateful for his many years of service to the people of New Mexico, and my thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends during this difficult time.

Office of Gov. Lujan-Grisham

Albuquerque’s mayor, Tim Keller, also issued his condolences.

Like so many New Mexicans, we are mourning the loss of former Governor Apodaca. I was fortunate to first meet Jerry when I was an intern in the State Senate. Governor Apodaca, already Emeritus by a few decades, was passionately fighting for medical cannabis. Although controversial at the time, he advocated for its benefits for cancer patients and others with chronic pain. He was a man ahead of his time in many ways. 

As governor, he modernized our state government into a cabinet and confirmation structure and introduced the merit system to bring New Mexico in the modern era. It is a legacy largely unchanged since and has been the backbone for the delivery of services to New Mexicans for decades.   

I am thankful for his service to our state and extend my sincere condolences to his family and friends.

Mayor Tim Keller

U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich issued the following statement on Twitter:

Jerry Apodaca was a trailblazer. I am deeply grateful for his many years of service to our state and country. My and Julie’s thoughts are with his family and friends.

Martin Heinrich