Former state Treasurer Matthew Kipling Fong died Wednesday after a battle with skin cancer. He was 57.
His wife, Paula, told the Associated Press, that he died at their home in Pasadena.
Fong had undergone surgery, chemotherapy and radiation and other treatments for tongue and lymphatic cancer in recent years, even traveling to the Philippines for stem-cell therapy.
The Republican, Oakland native and son of Democratic former California Secretary of State March Fong Eu served as state treasurer from 1995 to 1999 and was the Republican nominee who unsuccessfully challenged U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer in 1998.
Boxer, during a conference call with media members Wednesday, expressed shock at news of Fong's death; she said she hadn't realized he'd been ill.
"Matt Fong was a very strong competitor in our race years ago, we debated, we had respect for one another, he had a very distinguished career," she said.
"He will be missed and I sent my deepest condolences to his family."
Fong graduated from Skyline High School in Oakland, and earned a bachelor's degree from the Air Force Academy in 1975, an MBA from Pepperdine University in 1982 and a law degree from Southwestern University School of Law in Los Angeles in 1985.
He attained the rank of lieutenant colonel in the Air Force Reserve, and he worked as an attorney at the firm of Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton in Los Angeles from 1985 to 1990.
In 1990, he was the Republican nominee for state controller, losing to incumbent Democrat Gray Davis. Months later, Gov. Pete Wilson appointed him to a vacancy on the state Board of Equalization. In 1994, he defeated Democratic nominee Phil Angelides to become state treasurer.
President George W. Bush appointed Fong in 2002 to serve as chairman of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation Advisory Board.
Most recently, Fong had been president of Strategic Advisory Group, a corporate financier and investment banking firm he cofounded. He also was of counsel to Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton, where he'd worked in the 1980s.
Fong also was a Federal Aviation Administration-certified flight instructor, commercial pilot and glider pilot, as well as a husband and a father of two.
Gov. Jerry Brown issued a statement Wednesday lauding Fong's "life of service" and expressing condolences to his family.
"On behalf of all Californians, I wish to express gratitude for the service that Mr. Fong provided to our great state during his term as treasurer," Brown said.
Current state Treasurer Bill Lockyer, who was the state Senate President Pro Tem during Fong's tenure as treasurer, issued this statement saying California "has lost a fine leader and a great example of the Asian-Pacific community's tremendous contributions to the California family."
"As treasurer, Matt never forgot he was managing taxpayers' money, and never failed to put their interests first. I try to live up to that standard," Lockyer said. "My heart goes out to Matt's family. I hope they find strength in his courage, and that their grief quickly fades into the quiet joy of memories."