Lawrence Eagleburger

Lawrence Eagleburger (Getty Images / June 4, 2011)

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va (KTLA) -- Former Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger died Saturday at the age of 80, according to a statement released by former president George H. W. Bush.

According to a spokesperson for the family, the diplomat died as a result of complications due to pneumonia at the University of Virginia Medical Center.

Eagleburger, the only foreign service officer to become Secretary of State, served the nation during the first Gulf War and the collapse of the Soviet empire, among other notable moments in history.

The Wisconsin native gained recognition as the top aide to Henry A. Kissinger during the Nixon administrations, helping to improve relations with China. During the Carter administration, he was ambassador to Yugoslavia, and he served as undersecretary of state for political affairs during the Reagan administration.

He went on to be appointed deputy secretary of state and an advisor for Yugoslavian affairs under George H. W. Bush in 1989. When James A. Baker resigned three years later from his position as secretary of state, Eagleburger replaced him, becoming the only foreign service officer to become secretary of state.

“Lawrence Eagleburger devoted his life to the security of our nation and to strengthening our ties with allies and partners,” President Obama said in a statement Saturday. "As Deputy Secretary and then Secretary of State under President George H. W. Bush, he helped our nation navigate the pivotal days during the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War."

Bush, who was Eagleburger's boss in late 1992 and early 1993, called him a tireless and dedicated patriot.

"I will be ever grateful for his wise, no-nonsense counsel during those four years of historic change in our world," Bush wrote in a statement released Saturday. "During one of the tensest moments of the Gulf War, when Saddam Hussein began attacking Israel with scud missiles trying cynically and cruelly to bait them into the conflict, we sent Larry to Israel to preserve our coalition. It was an inordinately complex and sensitive task, and his performance was nothing short of heroic."

Eagleburger was married to the former Marlene Ann Heinemann. He is survived by three sons, all named Lawrence Eagleburger, but with different middle names. He reportedly suffered from chronic asthma.