PHOENIX — Former Arizona state Sen. Russell Pearce, best known for sponsoring the controversial SB 1070 immigration bill, died Thursday at age 75 after coming down with an illness earlier in the week, his family announced.

“He lived a life of service to God, family and country. He loved us, and we loved him dearly,” Pearce’s family said in a statement.

Pearce served in the Arizona House from 2001-08 before moving over to the Senate in 2008.

He introduced SB 1070 and it was signed into law by Gov. Jan Brewer in April 2010.

The legislation allowed law enforcement to ask about someone’s immigration status if there was a belief that person was undocumented.

It was one of several controversial immigration bills tied to Pearce.

“Pearce was a God-fearing man and loved his country with all his heart,” Arizona Senate Republicans said in a statement.

“He was an ardent champion for secure borders and gave his all when it came to preventing the violence associated with dangerous cartel encroaching into our communities.”

The Republican was also the first sitting Senate president in any state to be recalled from office.

Pearce lost a recall election to Jerry Lewis in 2011 after activist group Citizens For a Better Arizona turned in enough signatures to force the recall.

His final foray in state politics came in 2012 when he was elected the first vice chair of the Republican Party of Arizona.

Pearce resigned from the role in September 2014 after he said he would sterilize female Medicaid recipients if he was in charge of the program.