Former Kentucky Court of Appeals judge and former gubernatorial candidate died in a fire Thursday after heroically saving his wife.

The former judge Tom Emberton, 90, sprang into action after his home in the city of Edmonton caught fire around 3:30 a.m.

“He heroically rescued his wife and brought her to safety,” Edmonton Mayor Doug Smith told a local ABC affiliate. “Then he went back inside to save his house and lost his life,” he added.

Emberton ran for governor of the state in 1971 and was appointed to the Kentucky Court of Appeals in 1987.

“Tom was just the best guy in the world and he was a joy to be around. His attitude was contagious to everyone,” Smith said. “He had a way of being that was really special.”

Emberton was re-elected to the Court of Appeals twice and served as that court’s chief judge until he retired in 2004, according to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

McConnell served in Emberton’s gubernatorial campaign.

“Tom gave me one of my first experiences in the harsh and tumultuous realities of political campaigning, hiring me to work on his campaign for governor in 1971,” McConnell said in a statement.

“It taught me valuable lessons about public service and how to run as a state Republican in Kentucky.”

Emberton and his wife, Julia, had been married for 65 years. The couple had two children and five grandchildren.

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