Ken Taylor

Former Canadian diplomat Ken Taylor, who helped six U.S. citizens escape during the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis, died Thursday. He was 81.

A family member confirmed to Global News Taylor passed away Thursday afternoon surrounded by family members at the New York-Presbyterian hospital

Canadian politicians offered their condolences and kind words on Taylor’s record as a diplomat.

“As Canada’s Ambassador to Iran during the Iranian Revolution, Taylor valiantly risked his own life by shielding a group of American diplomats from capture,” Prime Minister Stephen Harper said in a statement. “Ken Taylor represented the very best that Canada’s foreign service has to offer.”