Richard Riordan, the first Catholic to serve as Mayor of Los Angeles in the modern era, died at the age of 92 on Wednesday, April 19, his family announced.

Riordan served as mayor from 1993 to 2001 and is largely credited for guiding the city in the aftermath of the 1992 L.A. Riots and the 1994 Northridge earthquake. In a statement shared Thursday morning, Los Angeles Archbishop José H. Gomez said his death “marks the end of an era here in the city and in the Church here in Los Angeles.

“Mayor Riordan was a devoted public servant, a generous philanthropist, a wise civic leader, and a fine Christian gentleman, who worked hard to make life better for those he served, especially for the poorest Angelenos,” said the archbishop.

Originally from New York City, Riordan studied at Jesuit-run Santa Clara University in the Bay Area before transferring to Princeton. He eventually moved to Los Angeles, where he built a career as a lawyer, businessman, and investment banker.  

He was known as an enthusiastic supporter of Catholic charitable causes, especially Catholic education. When then-Archbishop Roger Mahony established the Catholic Education Foundation (CEF) to provide tuition support for students in LA’s Catholic school students in 1987, Riordan was among the prominent business leaders chosen to serve as a founding trustee. He was also CEF’s first president.

mahony riordan

Then-Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan (left), entertainer Ed McMahon and Cardinal Roger Mahony gather with Catholic school children at the National Catholic Educational Association meeting in Los Angeles April 14, 1998. Educators from across the country gathered for their 95th annual convention. (Mike Nelson/The Tidings)

In his statement, Archbishop Gomez also cited Riordan’s “guidance and support” in the building of the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels “and his vision and leadership in the area of Catholic education.”

In 2011, he launched a two-year, $100 million legacy campaign for CEF, and in 2013, was honored at a 25th CEF anniversary event attended by more than 800 people.

Prior to his election as mayor, Riordan was inducted into the Order of Malta. 

“I could always count on his advice and counsel and was always encouraged by his enthusiasm and optimism for the Church’s mission,” Archbishop Gomez said. “He will be missed. May God grant him eternal rest and give peace and consolation to his family and loved ones.”

Editor’s note: This is a breaking news story and will be updated.