But Richards said Romney left a legacy in the attorney general's office of honesty and integrity. "It was a little different from what we're seeing in the attorney general's office today."
During the 1976 gubernatorial campaign, when the unknown Matheson was outpolling the two-term attorney general, Richards said Romney's seemingly slow, lumbering style hurt him. "He's not a show horse, he's a workhorse," Richards said.
Former Sen. Jake Garn said he appreciated Romney for his no-nonsense approach.
"When you asked him a question, you got a straight answer," Garn said. "Too many politicians are so careful with what they say because they're afraid it will hurt them politically. But Romney told you what he thought, regardless of the consequences.
As attorney general, Romney led a successful effort before the U.S. Supreme Court to obtain the mineral rights in the Great Salt Lake for Utah. He also worked to improve airline service into and from Salt Lake City, and he increased protection for consumers in the state.
He was a World War II infantry veteran, serving in the Leyte and Okinawa campaigns.
He earned his law degree from George Washington University and worked on the Washington, D.C., staff of Utah Sen. Arthur V. Watkins and as an attorney for the Federal Communications Commission.
Born April 27, 1924 to Vernon and Anna Lois Bradford Romney, he was a cousin of 2012 Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
He married Patricia Pingree in 1952 and they had six children, 21 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.