LOS ANGELES, March 19 (UPI) -- Warren Christopher, secretary of state in the Clinton administration, died in Los Angeles of cancer at the age of 85, his family announced Saturday.
The attorney decorated for his role in securing the release of 52 U.S. hostages in Iran in 1981 died of cancer in his kidneys and bladder, CNN said.
The New York Times said Christopher made his substantial fortune representing the likes of IBM and the Lockheed Martin Corp. while working his way up through the ranks of the O'Melveny & Myers law firm.
Among his diplomatic accomplishments, Christopher shepherded a treaty regarding the Panama Canal that granted the United States military access.
However, his efforts at getting Iran's post-revolutionary government to release 52 U.S. hostages in 1981 are the highlight of his career. The Times said Christopher rarely showed emotion, but cried when the hostages were released.
"I am thankful to have served a nation so quietly strong that it could preserve its honor, not by retaliation or vengeance, but by preserving the lives of the hostages," he said.
He was awarded the highest U.S. civilian honor, the Medal of Freedom, by President Jimmy Carter for his efforts.
President Barack Obama issued a statement Saturday lauding Christopher's career.
"Warren Christopher was a skillful diplomat, a steadfast public servant, and a faithful American," Obama said.
Christopher is survived by his wife, three children and five grandchildren.