Edward G. "Bunch" Guerrero, in his fifth term as Gila County supervisor, died Saturday in Globe.
Guerrero, who was 68, had been battling cancer for nine months or so, Gila County Administrator Steve Besich said.
"One thing Bunch will especially be remembered for was his accessibility to his constituents," Besich said. "If you ever called him, you could be sure he would call you back."
Guerrero, who was serving his ninth year as county supervisor, had developed a close, trusting relationship with the other two supervisors, Ron Christensen and Cruz Salas, Besich said.
"The public doesn't always understand that while political parties are political parties and elections are elections, these three supervisors were able to put those kinds of things behind them," Besich said. "Once the election was over, they looked at everything from one perspective was it good for Gila County? They trusted each other to the point where they could say, 'You go off and do this, and I'll go off and do that, and then we'll come back and see what we've accomplished.'"
Guerrero, who lived in Globe his entire life, also served three terms on the Globe City Council, followed by eight consecutive terms in the Arizona House of Representatives. He was minority floor leader of that body from 1974 to 1978.
District 1 Supervisor Ron Christensen said Guerrero's experience in the state legislature was especially valuable to the county.
"His knowledge of the legislature and how it worked meant an awful lot to the county when we were working with those bodies," he said.
Besich said Guerrero was well known for his longtime support of labor unions, and that during his U.S. Navy days, the Korean War veteran also was a welterweight boxing champion of the Sixth Fleet.
The remaining board members will decide on an application process to appoint Guerrero's successor in the next few weeks, Besich said. The only requirements are that applicants be affiliated with the same party Guerrero was a Democrat and that they reside in District 2.
"Whoever is appointed will serve until a year from September," Besich said. "The law has been changed so they no longer serve the entire term, but have to run in the next general election following their appointment."