LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) -

Former Wisconsin Governor and La Crosse native Patrick Lucey has died.

Lucey passed away Saturday night at the Milwaukee Catholic home after a brief illness. Lucey was elected governor in 1970 and won re-election in 1974, but left midway through his second term to serve as then-President Jimmy Carter's ambassador to Mexico.

He also ran for Vice President as an independent in 1980. In 2009, Lucey spoke about what he's most proud of during his time as Governor. "The re-organization of the judicial system with the intermediate appellate courts and certainly the merger of the two university systems so that whether a kid graduates in Superior, or La Crosse, or Eau Claire, or Madison they get a diploma that says University of Wisconsin," said Lucey.

Lucey was responsible for breaking the all-male dominance of the state's high court when he appointed now Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson to it in 1976. He was 96 years old.