Gordon Jacob Samuels, 84, an honored lawyer, university chancellor and former governor of the Australian state of New South Wales, died Monday, Dec. 10, 2007.

“I was saddened to hear of the passing of Mr Samuels who had a long and distinguished career in the law before becoming the state’s 36th governor,” New South Wales Premier Morris Iemma said in a statement. “Our thoughts are with Mr. Samuels’ family at this time. He was a fine servant of the people of NSW.”

Samuels, who was born in 1923 to an English family, emigrated to Australia in 1949 after service as an artilleryman in the British Army during World War Two. He had a distinguished career in law and academia in Australia before being appointed governor of New South Wales in 1996.

Samuels is lauded on an Australian Jewish educational website as a famous Jewish Australian. He was a patron of the Australian Council of Christians and Jews. In 1997, Samuels participated in the launch of the Centre for Intercultural Jewish Studies in Sydney.

According to Wikipedia, he agreed to the state premier’s decision that he should move out of Government House and into an official apartment, a move that was widely seen as degrading the office of governor, and making it a part-time position.

Samuels was made a Companion of the Order of Australia in 1987 and a Commander of the Royal Victorian Order in 2000, and received the Centenary Medal in 2003.

His former home, University of New South Wales, has created the Gordon J. Samuels Fellowship Program to provide staff development opportunities in North America for UNSW academic.

His family decided against a state funeral and instead held a private service. He was remembered during a private service at Eastern Suburbs Crematorium and Memorial Park, according to Australian websites. He is survived by his wife, Jacqueline Kott, daughters Deborah and Selina and their families.