PHOENIX — Former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio's wife, Ava Arpaio, has died after a battle with cancer, according to Maricopa County Sheriff's Office (MCSO).
MCSO says Ava Arpaio died Saturday at 89. She was diagnosed with cancer in early 2016.
Officials with MCSO took to Twitter Sunday to offer their condolences to the family.
Former MCSO spokesman Chris Hegstrom said that Ava Arpaio died on Saturday, not Sunday as MCSO reported in their tweet.
The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office sends heartfelt condolences to the family and loved ones of Ava Arpaio after she lost her battle with cancer earlier today. May she Rest In Peace. Our sincerest condolences to former Sheriff Joe Arpaio.— Maricopa County Sheriff's Office (@mcsoaz) March 22, 2021
"I'm not feeling very well. I've been married to my wife for 63 years — we just celebrated our 63rd year of marriage on Dec. 22," Joe Arpaio said Sunday. "She's been the love of my life, she's always supported and defended me during my 57 years in law enforcement, and she's always made sure that our two children and I were always happy."
He also says former President Donald Trump contacted him to offer his condolences.
"I know the people around the country loved her. And stood by my wife over the years and even the former President Trump called my wife several times when she was fighting cancer," Arpaio said.
"I know she's in heaven, and I'll never forget her. And it's very difficult for me to talk but, a lot of people didn't like me but a very proud of the fact they liked my wife," Arpaio said.
The couple was married when he was sworn in as a federal agent in Chicago and Joe Arpaio says she was alongside him throughout almost his whole life in law enforcement.
"My wife would do anything for me, we lived in Turkey and Mexico, South America when I was head of the federal drug enforcement... She even helped me on my cases that whatever I needed she would do it and but she was just a beautiful person in and out and she supported me," Arpaio said.
Arpaio served as the sheriff of Maricopa County — which includes the city of Phoenix — from 1993 to 2017. During that time, he became one of the most divisive figures in law enforcement, especially over his treatment of undocumented immigrants.
Arpaio was found guilty of criminal contempt of charges in 2017 for continuing to keep racial profile practices in place despite a court order against doing so. He was pardoned by Trump in August 2017.
This story was originally published by Cydeni Carter on KNXV in Phoenix.