Asa "Ace" Bushnell, a devoted public servant, rehabilitation counselor and loving husband, has died.

He was 85 and died Monday of health complications.

Bushnell was the true definition of a "selfless man who always wanted to help others," said his wife of 25 years, Cheri Cross-Bushnell.

"He had a hard time saying 'no' to people, especially those who were in need of help," said Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik, who worked with Bushnell for many years during Bushnell's 23-year career at the department as a community outreach manager. He retired from the department in 2006.

"I learned so much from Ace; he was very bright," Dupnik said.

Bushnell was open about his struggle with alcohol abuse and having been sober for more than four decades, and used his success to help others.

"Helping people with drug addiction and alcoholism is my primary interest in life ever since I myself got sober on Sept. 24, 1969. That was a turning point in my life and after 42 years of uninterrupted sobriety, I have wanted to help others enjoy the benefits," Bushnell told the Star last month.

Bushnell received the Chrysalis Award last week for his work transforming the lives of thousands of Tucsonans battling addiction.

Cross-Bushnell said that inthe weeks leading up to the luncheon, where Bushnell was presented with the award, he did not feel well but said he wanted to attend.

"He told me after it was over that receiving that award was one of the best things that had ever happened to him," she said.

Four days later he died.

Bushnell was a newspaperman who spent four stints with the Tucson Citizen in four decades, beginning in the late 1940s, going from sports editor to the editorial pages.

Between his time at the Citizen he served as a special agent for the FBI.

The former Marine and Princeton grad was born in Springfield, Ohio, and was raised in Princeton, N.J. He lived permanently in Tucson since 1971.

Bushnell was a member of the Rotary Club of Tucson and a longtime board member of the Compass Health Care Foundation Board.

Bushnell is survived by his wife, his sons Mark and Larry Bushnell, his daughter Carolyn Houghtby, his stepdaughters Michelle Marsh, Peggi Cross and Rochelle Jourdan; his sister Barbara Leonard; and several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.