Greg Hobbs, Dottie Lamm

Former Colorado Supreme Court Justice Greg Hobbs chats with former First Lady Dottie Lamm at the Colorado Legislative Women’s Caucus in 2014 at the Ralph L. Carr Colorado Judicial Cente in Denver.

Former Colorado Supreme Justice Gregory J. Hobbs Jr., the state's preeminent authority on water law and its history, died Tuesday. He was 76, two weeks short of his birthday.

His family released a statement Tuesday evening saying he died "peacefully with his family" after a pulmonary embolism.

He is survived by his wife, Bobbie, and children, Dan and Emily.

Hobbs became a lawyer in Denver for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 1973. He retired from the high court in 2015. He was nominated by Democratic Gov. Roy Romer in 1996.

"For both the legal and water communities, and really all whose paths crossed his, the loss is heartbreaking," according to the statement on behalf of his family. "We not only lost one of our most knowledgeable legal minds, but also lost one of our most able and accomplished speakers, teachers, writers and historians. Those who knew Greg understand."

The family said there would be a celebration of Greg’s life at a later date, when it's safe from precautions caused by COVID-19.

His loved ones asked that, in lieu of flowers, donations be made to Water Education Colorado by clicking here. Checks also can be mailed to Water Education Colorado, 1600 N Downing St., Suite 200, Denver, CO 80218.

Hobbs was the standing vice president of Water Education Colorado, which he helped create in 2002. He also served as its publications chairman the past 19 years, overseeing the nonprofit's Headwaters magazine, as well as its Citizens Guide series.

The organization on Tuesday noted the judge's exuberance, routinely looking at the published magazine and declaring, "This is our best issue yet.” He carried boxes of the magazine in the trunk of his car to hand out to those interested in the state's vital resource.

Hobbs was also a mentor in the education foundation's leadership program. The organization credited him in his passing for maintaining dignity overseeing strategic growth and reenforcing its nonpartisan mission.

The author of numerous books, his latest, which he co-authored with Michael Welsh, was published last year, "Confluence: The Story of Greeley Water."

On the Supreme Court, he authored more than 250 majority opinions, especially on water law. He mentored almost 60 law clerks.

"He always talked about how proud he was of his clerks and where they are now, many of whom, like him, chose careers as public servants," his family noted Tuesday.

Before joining the high court, Hobbs spent two years with the EPA in Denver and then nearly four years with the Colorado Attorney General’s Office in the Natural Resources Section.

He then became a partner with Davis, Graham and Stubbs in 1979 and soon became the principal counsel for the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District. In 1992, he helped form the law firm of Hobbs, Trout and Raley with water lawyers Bob Trout and Bennett Raley.

CORRECTION: This story has been updated to reflect the correct date that Justice Gregory J. Hobbs passed away.