PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- Former Arizona Attorney General and politician Grant Woods died Saturday. Woods served as Attorney General from 1991 until 1999 and was a supporter of former senator John McCain.
Grant Woods, age 67, passed away unexpectedly on Saturday, according to his wife Marlene Galan Woods. His cause of death is unknown at this time. A husband, a father of five children, Woods leaves behind a large extended family, including a daughter he and wife Marlene also adopted.
“Grant was the love of my life. My best friend. My heart is broken. I just cannot believe he is gone. I can’t believe our time together is over. He was the best husband, the best father anyone could have wished for,” said Marlene Galan Woods, wife of Grant Woods. “I am so proud of the man he was, public servant, advocate for the everyday person, lover of music and stories and sports. He made me a better person. I can’t even fathom our lives without him. But we are strong, and a close family and we will work hard to honor his life.”
In the 1980s, Woods served as the first congressional chief of staff for the late Senator John McCain's time in Congress. Woods also supported McCain when he ran for the Republican U.S. Senate nomination in 2010, and the two remained close friends through both of their careers. He was also selected by his colleagues as the nation's top attorney general in 1995. As attorney general, Grant Woods played a pivotal role in Arizona and other states suing the tobacco industry for concealing the known health risks of smoking.
Former Attorney General and Mayor of Phoenix Terry Goddard spoke highly of Woods after the news of his passing. "Huge respect for Grant, for the person that he was, the man that he was, the Arizonan that he was...and the amazing talent that he brought to everything he did," said Goddard.
Goddard also spoke about the friendship between Woods and McCain. "At one point, he said he was a Republican because it annoyed them...which obviously that was pretty late in the process. But obviously in the spirit of John McCain, he was a maverick. Those two were very close...shared a sense of politics as a mission that's not driven by party," said Goddard. "Cindy McCain said that he and John were up having jokes in the hereafter. I think that's a pretty accurate description," said Goddard.
Tributes and memorials poured out on social media for Woods, including a tweet from Gov. Doug Ducey. "My deepest sympathies are with the family and loved ones of Grant Woods. He was well-known in the Arizona community, including serving as Attorney General & as chief of staff to John McCain before moving on to private practice," tweeted Ducey. "Our prayers are with his wife Marlene & 5 children."
Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich also issued a statement about Woods' passing. "Heartbreaking to learn of the passing of Grant Woods. I can’t imagine how difficult this time is for his entire family. Grant will never be forgotten. He was never one to back down or afraid to let you know what he was thinking. Even though we had many “spirited” discussions throughout our friendship, I never doubted his love for Arizona. I know there’s a jam session going on right now with him Charlie Watts, and John Prine," said Brnovich in a statement on Saturday evening.
Former Arizona Governor Jan Brewer reacted to Woods death with surprise as she tweeted this message. "I’m totally shocked to learn that my friend Grant Woods passed away earlier today. Grant stood with me through many battles. We didn’t agree on everything, but he always fought for, defended and cheered for me. An honorable public servant who I will deeply miss. RIP Grant."
Senator Kyrsten Sinema also paid tribute to Woods on social media. "Grant Woods was an incredible Arizonan with a long record of public service to our state - and a friend whose support meant so much to me. His leadership helped deliver lasting results for Arizona over many years. I will miss him and my heart is with Marlene and their children," tweeted Sinema.
Maricopa County Attorney Allister Adel also expressed her condolences on Twitter. "Rest in Peace Grant Woods and thank you for your service to Arizona," tweeted Adel. Former Gov. Jan Brewer also tweeted about Woods' unexpected passing. "I'm totally shocked to learn that my friend Grant Woods passed away earlier today. Grant stood with me through many battles," tweeted Brewer. "We didn't agree on everything, but he always fought for, defended and cheered for me. An honorable public servant who I will deeply miss. RIP Grant."
Mike Riikola, friend of Woods and fellow attorney, also expressed his condolences for Woods. "People talk about Renaissance men...he was truly just a gifting human being...but not without expertise," said Riikola.
Woods was widely expected to seek higher office after serving as Arizona‘s attorney general. But during an interview three years ago, he told Morgan Loew he decided to stay out of national politics because of the toll it would take on his family. He said it was more important for him to stay close to home while his children were young.
Woods graduated from Arizona State University College of Law in 1979. Woods recently led the review of a resident death at Canyon Winds Retirement Community in August after a 90-year-old man was found dead in a transport van.
Woods is also the founder of the Mesa Boys & Girls Club, the Mesa Education Foundation and the Mesa Arts Academy. The Mesa Boys & Girls Club is named after Woods. As Attorney General, Woods also created MEAPA, an organization dedicated to promoting public awareness about elder abuse and late-in-life domestic violence.
Funeral arrangements will be announced at a later date.