Hampden County Registrar of Deeds Donald Ashe died Tuesday morning at the age of 83.
Ashe held the office for 35 years and was facing a challenging election this year. He was up against former state Representative Cheryl Coakley-Rivera in the September Democratic Primary.
Hampden County Sheriff Nick Cocchi received the news of the death from Ashe's son, state Representative Brian Ashe.
Cocchi described long-time Registrar as "a tremendous individual, an elder statesman and a friend."
"When I decided to run for Sheriff," Cocchi said, "I went down and knocked on his door and he looked me in the eye and he shook my hand and he said 'I'm with you.' And he never wavered."
Ashe's death came after what Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin described as "a short yet very serious illness."
Galvin has appointed Ashe's top assistant, Kelly Cavanaugh-Kelly, as acting registrar of deeds.