SANTA FE (KRQE) — New Mexico residents are saying goodbye to Rep. Ben Luj n, the speaker of the state House, who died last week after a long battle with lung cancer.
The first public memorial is underway in the Roundhouse, the state capitol where Luj n served. The tone in the rotunda was both somber and reflective as people remember Lujan's legacy.
Lujan's close friend, House Chief Clerk Stephen Arias, told KRQE News 13 the standing-room-only crowd was indicative of the selfless work Luj n did during his nearly 40 years as a lawmaker.
"To see him constantly fighting for those same causes and same people who needed so much help, was an inspiration to many of the young legislators that came in also," Arias said.
Former Gov. Bill Richardson spoke at the service; many other colleagues also paid tribute to him.
His work described as tireless and selfless.
"He left a legacy of something for everybody, for himself," Bernalillo County Deputy Manager Vincent Murphy said. "This was a guy who was much more than a politician. He was an elected an official who really focused on everybody, the poor."
Many remembered the Nambe Democrat's work for education, for the poor and for job creation garnering respect from both sides of the aisle.
"Thank you for the sharing, and Ben, thank you for what you have done for New Mexico because it is a gift that will always give and never cease to do that," Senate Minority Leader Stuart Ingle, R-Portales, said.
A central message of all the tributes was how his family came first.
"He had a very happy family life, and I think because of that kind of support, he didn't need anything else for himself and therefore was able to give so much more to so many people in New Mexico," Arias said.
There's another visitation Friday at 5:30 p.m. at the Ben Luj n Gymnasium in Pojoaque.
A rosary at 7 p.m. Friday will follow the visitation. Funeral Mass will be said Saturday at 9 a.m. at the Basilica Cathedral of St. Francis in Santa Fe.
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New Mexico is located in the southwestern region of the U.S. Inhabited by Native American populations for many centuries, New Mexico has also been part of Imperial Spain, part of Mexico, and a U.S. territory.