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(NECN: Kathryn Sotnik) - Former Massachusetts Governor Argeo Paul Cellucci died on Saturday as a result of complications from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. He was 65 years old.
Dr. Robert Brown, Cellucci's former physician, spoke highly of the former public servant.
"I remember a man of extraordinary integrity, a man who didn't miss a trick in terms of understanding the complexity of this disease and what it would take to solve it, a man who was steadfast in his commitment to find an answer and who opened his heart as a friend," Brown said."
Cellucci was elected Governor in 1998 and took office in January of the following year. He resigned just over two years later after being appointed as the U.S. Ambassador to Canada.
He announced he had been diagnosed with ALS in 2011. After his diagnosis, he worked with the University of Massachusetts Medical School's Champion Fund to raise money for a research for a cure for the disease.
Dr. Michael Collins, the Chancellor of UMass Medical, spoke about Cellucci's commitment to finding a cure for ALS.
"The major image I have of him was his encouragement of me," Collins said. "[He told me,] 'Michael, don't let this stop if I'm to die, don't let the effort of the Champion Fund stop.'"
As the word of Cellucci's death spread, several state and local officials shared their thoughts on the beloved public servant.
"Angela and I are mourning the loss of a true gentleman, a great Governor, and a wonderful friend," Boston Mayor Tom Menino said in a statement. "Our city and our commonwealth will miss him deeply and his type - a leader who wanted to help people."
"I will always be grateful to him for his kind words of support for me, and will forever appreciate his guidance and wisdom," U.S. Senate candidate Gabriel Gomez said in a statement.
"Massachusetts lost a favored son and devoted public servant today," Governor Deval Patrick said in his own statement. "A lawyer, a legislator, governor, and diplomat, Paul Cellucci was also a kind man and a friend."
According to the Boston Globe, a memorial service is planned for next week in the House Chambers of the State House, his body will lie in state at the Hall of Flags, and a church service will be held at St. Michael's Church in Hudson, New Hampshire.
The dates for those services have not been announced.