Friends and former colleagues fondly remembered Mike Nevin as a champion for the poor and disadvantaged.

"Mike was a giant in politics in San Mateo County," Rep. Jackie Speier said in a statement about the former San Mateo County supervisor, who died at 69 on Saturday from esophageal cancer. "His passion was unbridled, his compassion boundless and his love for those without inexhaustible."

Nevin graduated in 1961 from St. Ignatius College Preparatory in San Francisco, according to a posting on the school's website. He joined the San Francisco Police Department in 1965, eventually rising to the position of inspector. He was elected to the Daly City council in 1982 and the Board of Supervisors in 1992.

After leaving the board, Nevin became executive director of the Service League of San Mateo County, a nonprofit that provides various services to current and former San Mateo County jail inmates.

Speier, who served on the Board of Supervisors before moving on to state and national politics, described Nevin as wise, iconoclastic and big-hearted. Though he spent 27 years in law enforcement, he later advocated treatment over punishment of offenders and took a stand in favor of medical marijuana.

"He was a leader by example," said Speier, D-Hillsborough. "I loved him and admired him greatly."

Adrienne Tissier, who succeeded Nevin on the Board of Supervisors, said her predecessor possessed "a vision for a more caring, a more just and a more compassionate world."


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"What made him such a great leader," Tissier, now president of the board, said in a statement, "is that he made you feel that together you could bring about such a world."

Nevin is survived by his wife, Kathleen, and children Michael, Michelle and Tim. Funeral arrangements have not been finalized.

Contact Aaron Kinney at 650-348-4357. Follow him at Twitter.com/kinneytimes.