Former Maryland State Treasurer Richard N. Dixon, a fiscally conservative Democrat and the first African American to hold the post, died this week, as reported by the Washington Post, from a stroke. Dixon was 74.

Word of Dixon’s death swept through the state capital. “I am saddened to hear of the passing” of Dixon, said Gov. Martin O’Malley, in a statement. He called Dixon “an outstanding business leader, State legislator, and State Treasurer” whose “belief in fiscal responsibility served the people of our state well…His commitment to public service will never be forgotten.”

State Treasurer Nancy K. Kopp, who served in the Maryland House of Delegates with Dixon for 12 years, called him “committed and conscientious.”

“He was clear and confident in his convictions and brought great intelligence and common sense to public service,” she wrote. “My condolences go to his wife and family.”

Born and raised in Carroll County, the mustachioed Dixon was a public servant of several firsts. In 1975, he became the first African American in Maryland to be named president of a school board when he was unanimously elected by his fellow board members in Carroll County. Dixon also had been the first African American appointed to serve on a school board in a predominantly white county. He resigned as treasurer in 2002 amid questions about his handling of the state pension system.

Born in Westminster, Dixon graduated from Morgan State University with undergraduate and graduate degrees in business administration. He worked as a financial broker. He rose to the rank of captain in the U.S. Army Medical Service Corps, earning a Bronze Star for his service in Vietnam.