Jan. 4 (UPI) -- Former New Jersey Gov. Brendan Byrne has died, his family announced Thursday. He was 93.
Byrne died of a lung infection at his home in Livingston, N.J., according to his son, Tom Byrne.
Byrne, a Democrat, was a two-term governor of the Garden State from 1974 to 1982. He is probably best known for bringing casino gambling to the state, paving the way for Atlantic City becoming a gaming capital on the East Coast.
When the Resorts Casino Hotel in Atlantic City opened in 1978, it became the first legal U.S. casino outside Nevada.
In addition to major development projects in New Jersey, he was an opponent of the death penalty. In 1980, then the state legislature voted to restore capital punishment, Byrne used his veto power to block the law.
"It's a good public relations gimmick when we're facing an increasing crime rate," Byrne said at the time. "[But it] does not get at the mugger, the rapist or a guy, on impulse, who throws you under the subway car."
"Governor Byrne had an extraordinary career of public service," New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said in a statement Thursday. "He served as counsel to Governor Meyner, Deputy Attorney General, Essex County Prosecutor, Superior Court Judge and two-term Governor of New Jersey. He did each of those jobs with integrity, honesty, intelligence, wit and flair."