U.S. Sen. Tom Udall issued the following statement on the death of longtime New Mexico House Speaker Ben Luján Wednesday:
“Our state lost a great leader, and a great friend, yesterday with the passing of Speaker Ben Luján. For over four decades, Ben was a tireless advocate for the people of New Mexico. Ben was a dedicated public servant, and even a devastating illness could not deter him from the job he had committed to do. He remained steadfast in his service to the people of our state, and he was an inspiration to all who knew him.
“Ben came of age in the Great Depression. He knew poverty and hard times first hand. He never forgot where he came from, and he was always a champion for the less fortunate among us. He was a tenacious fighter for education, for workers, for Native Americans, and for health care. His principles illuminated his life, and brightened the lives of all who knew him.
“Ben once said, ‘Let us make our time on Earth … worthwhile, and do what’s right, and make a difference for the children, our working families, and our elderly.’ He lived up to that challenge throughout his life, and he leaves behind a remarkable legacy of service to New Mexico. I was proud to call Ben Luján my colleague and my friend. Jill and I will miss Ben. We extend our deepest condolences to Carmen, and to Shirley, Jackie, Jerome and Congressman Ben Ray Luján, and all the Luján family.”
A note from U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Lujan: “On behalf of my mom Carmen, sister Jackie and her husband Marvin, sister Shirley, brother Jerome and his wife Johnell, myself, and the rest of our family, thank you to everyone who has shared their condolences and thoughts about my Dad, Ben Luján. Dad loved New Mexico and its people so much. Please continue to keep him and our family in your prayers.”