ROANOKE, Va. (AP) — Longtime federal judge Glen Conrad, who presided over cases in Virginia for over 40 years, died on Thursday, according to court officials. He was 71.

statement posted Friday on the website for the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia didn’t specify a cause of death for Senior U.S. District Judge Glen E. Conrad.

Former U.S. Attorney John Fishwick Jr. told The Roanoke Times that Conrad was a “judicial icon” who had “a phenomenal record of service to our country.”

Conrad’s notable cases included a 2017 order for the city of Charlottesville to allow white nationalists and other far-right extremists to hold their “Unite the Right” rally at its originally planned location downtown. Conrad ruled before the event that rally organizer Jason Kessler was likely to prevail in his claims that the city would be violating free speech rights by requiring a location change. Violent clashes in Charlottesville that weekend led to a man plowing his car into a counterprotester, killing the woman.

Conrad, a native of Radford, Virginia, earned his law degree from the College of William & Mary in 1974 and initially worked as a probation officer and a law clerk.

In 1976, Conrad was appointed to serve as a magistrate judge in the federal court system’s Abingdon, Charlottesville and Roanoke divisions. Conrad, who held that position for more than 27 years, was the was the youngest magistrate judge in the nation at the time of his appointment.

In 2003, then-President George W. Bush nominated Conrad for his district court judge’s seat. He continued to hear cases after taking senior status in December 2017.

“His empathy for everyone who appeared before him was apparent, as was his love for his job,” the court’s statement says.

Friends told the newspaper, which reported that Conrad was 71, that he returned to work after receiving treatment for brain cancer and continuing serving until his cancer returned about a month ago.

“He faced that illness with a lot of courage, and he just continued to work, which is what he’s always done,” Fishwick said.