Harvard Law School Dean Martha Minow said: “I join so many in mourning the loss of Joe Fernandez — exemplary public servant, distinguished lawyer, loving husband and father, he was also my student, my friend, and a superb mentor to students and model for those seeking a life of meaningful service. His teachers and friends at the Harvard Law School will join so many others in working to ensure that his sterling accomplishments live on.”

Expressions of sympathy came from numerous public officials who knew Fernandez, including President Barack Obama, Rhode Island Governor-elect Lincoln Chafee, Providence Mayor and U.S. Representative-elect David Cicilline and Rhode Island Democratic Party Chairman Edwin Pacheco.

Fernandez, a law school classmate of President Barack Obama’s, also served as co-chair of Obama’s Rhode Island presidential campaign, the Providence Journal reported.

“I was shocked and saddened to learn today of the passing of my friend and colleague Joe Fernandez,” President Obama said in a public statement. “From our time together in law school to his work as a dedicated public servant in Providence, I knew Joe as someone who had lived the American dream and was committed to protecting it for his fellow citizens.”

Fernandez is survived by his wife, Emily Maranjian ’91, a lawyer in the attorney general’s office, and their two young daughters. A service will be held in Providence on Thursday, Dec. 23.

Obituaries appeared in the Boston Globe and on the website of NPR’s Rhode Island affiliate, WRNI.