EFETucson, Arizona

Raul H. Castro, the only Hispanic to be elected governor of Arizona, died Friday, the office of current Gov. Doug Ducey said. He was 98.

"He was an honorable public servant, a history-maker, a beloved family man and a strong friend and fighter for Arizona," Ducey said in a statement.

Sources close to the family told Efe that Castro passed away at a hospice in San Diego. Religious services are planned in Phoenix, Tucson and the border town of Douglas, family friend James Garcia said.

Born June 13, 1916, in Cananea, Mexico, Castro was 10 when his family crossed the border and settled in Douglas.

He graduated from the University of Arizona Law School and was elected the first Hispanic county attorney in Pima County, which includes Tucson, and subsequently became the first Latino judge in Pima County Superior Court.

Castro then pursued a career as a diplomat, serving successively as U.S. ambassador to El Salvador and Bolivia before returning to Arizona to run for governor as a Democrat.

He lost his first bid, in 1970, but was elected four years later and took office in January 1975 as the first Hispanic governor in a state with a long history of discrimination.

Castro stepped down midway through his term to accept an appointment from President Jimmy Carter as ambassador to Argentina.