Former state Treasurer Matt Fong, 1953-2011

Various news outlets are reporting the death of former state Treasurer Matthew Kipling Fong.

Matt FongFong, 57, of Pasadena, in recent years had undergone surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and other treatments for cancer.

The Republican, Alameda County native and son of Democratic former California Secretary of State March Fong Eu served as state treasurer from 1995 to 1999 and was the 1998 Republican nominee who unsuccessfully challenged U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.

Boxer expressed shock at news of Fong’s death today; 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.”

Gov. Pete Wilson in early 1991 had appointed Fong – soon after his unsuccessful bid for state controller in 1990 – to a vacancy on the state Board of Equalization. Fong earned a bachelor’s degree from the U.S. 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.

Most recently, Fong had been president of Strategic Advisory Group, a corporate financer and investment banker he cofounded serving small, late early stage and mid-sized corporations. He also was of counsel to the firm of Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton in Los Angeles, where earlier he had worked from 1985 to 1990.

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.

UPDATE @ 2:31 P.M.: Current state Treasurer Bill Lockyer, who was the state Senate President Pro Tem during Fong’s tenure as treasurer, issued this statement:

“Our state 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. 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.”

UPDATE @ 5:24 P.M.: More details here on Matt Fong’s life and death.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.