LOS ANGELES (AP) – Marco Antonio Firebaugh, the former assemblyman who died last week at age 39, was remembered Monday for his loyalty and integrity in championing the lives of immigrant and low-income families. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante and Assembly Speak Fabian Nuñez were among 2,000 people gathered for the funeral at the downtown Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels. “I loved my dad so much,” his young daughter Ariana tearfully said during an emotional funeral Mass. Burial followed at Rose Hills Memorial Park in Whittier. Retired state Sen. Richard Polanco said Firebaugh was most proud of his effort to secure in-state college tuition for illegal immigrants. “It was Marco’s gift to the community. That singular achievement has fundamentally changed the lives of immigrant students of our state,” said Polanco, a longtime friend of Firebaugh. “He’s a guy who knew how to get things done. When he had to be tough, he knew how to be tough, but he had a very warm heart and a very fulfilling life at his young age,” Nuñez said. Friends vowed to continue the legacy of the South Gate Democrat, who was born in Tijuana and grew up poor while being raised by a single mother. “When you think that his young life is over, it is pretty painful,” Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said told KNBC-TV. “This is a young man who is idealistic, who wanted to change the world, who was an immigrant to this country and never forgot his roots.” Firebaugh missed the end of the 2003 legislative session while battling a serious liver problem. He died at the University of California, Los Angeles, Medical Center on March 21 from influenza and liver failure. As assemblyman from 1998 to 2004, Firebaugh led the California Latino Legislative Caucus and championed bills to improve the lives of immigrant and low-income families. He was majority floor leader for two years. Firebaugh was running for the 30th Senate District in southeastern Los Angeles County when he died. Also on the June 6 ballot are assemblymen Ron Calderon, D-Montebello, and Rudy Bermudez, D-Norwalk. Among Firebaugh’s most significant accomplishments was writing a 2002 law that allowed some illegal immigrants to attend California universities while paying in-state fees. Firebaugh also wrote legislation to provide money for low-income communities most affected by air pollution. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORE‘Mame,’ ‘Hello, Dolly!’ composer Jerry Herman dies at 88160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!