TUCSON - Pima County Board Supervisor Richard Elias has died at the age of 61. Elias' daughter said he passed away peacefully in his sleep.
Elias, a Democrat, represented District Five on the Pima County Board of Supervisors since February 2002.
He was a vocal advocate for the Sonoran Desert, affordable housing and education.
Elias earned a Public Service Award from the University of Arizona Alumni Association. He also was awarded a Salpointe Catholic High School Distinguished Alumni Hall of Fame Award.
Elias served on the Pima County Board of Health, the Little Chapel of All Nations Board of Directors, the Salpointe Catholic High School Board of Directors, the Diabetes Association Board of Directors, Tucson Unified School District Mexican-American Studies Advisory Board, the Juvenile Justice Executive Board and the UA Healthcare Hospital at Kino Advisory Board.
Elias entered public office after a lengthy career in government and non-profit development of affordable housing. He earned a degree in History, with a minor in Mexican-American Studies, from the University of Arizona.
He was appointed to his seat on the Pima County Board of Supervisors in 2002 replacing his friend Raul Grijalva, when Grijalva won election to the United States House of Representatives.
“I want to say about my friend, as directly as I can: Richard Elias gave a shit," said Grijalva in a statement on Saturday. "He cared about regular folks and the issues that mattered to them. He led with his heart and used his mind and body to consistently fight for the right thing for people. The loss of a thinker and advocate like him will be sorely missed in our community."
As a fifth-generation Tucsonan, Elias is the son of a longtime local union printer.
He was a champion for sports in Southern Arizona, working feverishly behind the scene to bring Triple-A Baseball back to Kino Memorial Stadium in 2012 for a three-year stint.
Elias was a key asset in getting Kino North Stadium built for FC Tucson as well as helping to push through plans for the new Kino South Soccer Complex that opened in January.
He leaves behind wife Emily Velde Elias and daughter Luz.
Copyright 2020 News 4 Tucson. All rights reserved.
David Kelly contributed to this story.