Spencer Giffords, father of former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, died Saturday, his family said.
He was 77.
The cause of death was not specified, but his wife, Gloria Giffords, said he had been suffering from a number of health issues.
She remembered her husband as a generous man who was passionate about his family, social issues and education.
"I really miss him. He was everything to me," she said Saturday during a telephone interview.
The couple married in 1966, she said.
Spencer Giffords suffered both physically and emotionally after his daughter was shot through the head on Jan. 8, 2011. He was not well enough to travel with his daughter and wife to events like the space shuttle liftoff in May 2011.
"He was very proud of Gabby and devastated from the shooting," Gloria Giffords said. "He couldn't understand how anyone could procure a weapon and managed to slaughter all those people."
He tried to be with his daughter as often as possible, though, and was front and center at the University of Arizona on Jan. 8 this year, anniversary of the Tucson tragedy, beaming as his daughter recited the Pledge of Allegiance.
Spencer Giffords was born in New York City, grew up in Tucson and graduated from Mexico City College. After college he took over his father's tire business - El Campo Tire.
"He loved the people. He really liked the customers, and he liked being part of a family-owned business," his wife said.
Spencer's father, Akiba Hornstein, son of a Lithuanian rabbi, founded the business in 1940 after the family moved to Southern Arizona from New York.
Hornstein changed his name to "Gif Giffords" to protect himself from anti-Semitism.
Gabby was her father's daughter, and she had an absolute loyalty to him. When he called on her to run El Campo Tire, she returned to Tucson from New York City, where she was living.
She was 27 at the time and working with the accounting firm Price Waterhouse in the big city,
"It seemed like the beginning of a grand and glittering adventure in the big city: posh apartments, pointy-toed shoes and maybe even my first martini," she said in a 2009 commencement address at Scripps College in Claremont, Calif.
The future congresswoman in 1996 took the reins as president and CEO of El Campo, which had 11 outlets, 100 employees and $11 million in annual sales.
In 2000 she oversaw the sale of the company to Goodyear Tire and made her first run for office, winning a seat in the Arizona House of Representatives.
Spencer Giffords was also fascinated with the U.S. space programs and had tremendous respect for Gabby's husband, astronaut Mark Kelly.
"It piqued his curiosity. Just to think, his daughter would get married to a real-life astronaut," his wife said. "He loved Mark and had the greatest respect for him as an individual."
In addition to his wife and Gabby, he also is survived by his daughter Melissa and his son from a previous marriage, Alejandro.
Spencer also was first-cousin of the late Bruce Paltrow - father of actress Gwyneth Paltrow.
Contact reporter Jamar Younger at firstname.lastname@example.org or 573-4115.