Donald Rumsfeld, the legendary Republican who was the controversial defense secretary and architect of the Iraq War, passed away on Tuesday just days before his 89th birthday.

“It is with deep sadness that we share the news of the passing of Donald Rumsfeld, an American statesman and devoted husband, father, grandfather and great grandfather. At 88, he was surrounded by family in his beloved Taos, New Mexico,” the family said in a statement obtained by USA Today.

“History may remember him for his extraordinary accomplishments over six decades of public service, but for those who knew him best and whose lives were forever changed as a result, we will remember his unwavering love for his wife Joyce, his family and friends and the integrity he brought to a life dedicated to country,” they added.

A spokesperson said that Rumsfeld died due to multiple myeloma.

When President George W. Bush chose Rumsfeld as his Pentagon chief back in 2001, he pledged to shake up the military bureaucracy by making it more lean and more agile. The September 11 terrorist attacks that took place later that year, however, changed his plans entirely. Rumsfeld handled the Pentagon’s response to the attacks as well as its initial attack on al-Qaida bases in Afghanistan.

U.S. commandos and airstrikes quickly toppled the Taliban from power and put in place a democratically elected government. Rumsfeld switched the Pentagon’s focus to Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein in 2002, with U.S. forces invading Iraq the next year to stop him from launching attacks with weapons of mass destruction. However, no weapons were discovered, and the mismanaged American occupation led to a guerrilla war and sectarian violence.

Bush finally fired Rumsfeld after the midterm elections in 2006 as the war in Iraq continued. He was replaced by Robert Gates, who made MRAPs the Pentagon’s top priority. In the years since then, Rumsfeld returned to the private sector and wrote a memoir, according to Fox News. In 2011, Rumsfeld’s fellow conservative Republicans awarded him the “Defender of the Constitution Award” at the 2011 Conservative Political Action Conference.