An outpouring of love and respect has touched the hearts of Peter Lougheed's family in the wake of his death Thursday at age 84.
A simple bouquet of white roses rested under his portrait in the premier's wing of the Alberta Legislature the day after his death. As flags flew at half-mast, around the province tributes and memories poured in for the man whose leadership moulded modern Alberta.
Edmonton resident Charles Bradbrooke recalled how Lougheed's campaign call for diligence and reward prompted him to relocate to Alberta.
"We moved from Saskatchewan to Alberta to help work our buns off so we wouldn't have to pay any taxes later," Bradbrooke remembered.
Subsequent government excesses blew that lead away, he said.
Solicitor General Jonathan Denis recalled said Lougheed's 2003 visit to his school shaped his career.
"He suggested three of us in the crowd would become MLA — at that moment I decided it was a career I wanted to pursue," Denis recalled.
What impressed Denis the most, he said, was the retired premier's positive attitude.
"His example to me is one of service — he looked at everyone around him as someone he served, one of his bosses," Denis said.
At the Alberta Legislature, where the Calgary native's upstart Progressive Conservative party blazed a new path four decades ago with a victory over the Social Credit party in a tide-turning election, tributes came in from all sitting parties.
"He modernized Alberta, toppled a political dynasty, diversified the economy, and established strong public institutions," said Liberal leader Raj Sherman, recalling Lougheed strengthening Alberta's role in confederation, taking on Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau's contentious National Energy Program over energy revenue sharing. A University of Alberta-educated lawyer with a Harvard MBA, Lougheed was well-served by his keen business sense and an aptitude for game-changing legislation.
"A true federalist, he was an outspoken proponent of Canadian unity and the Constitution Act. He also fought to enshrine our freedoms, defend property, and enhance civil liberties through the creation of the Alberta Bill of Rights," Sherman said.
Alberta NDP Leader Brian Mason said Lougheed's work is recognized nationally because as he stood up for Albertans, he remained a passionate Canadian.
"He was a giant of Alberta political history and, in many ways, the founder of modern Alberta — he was a huge figure in my political development, and I will miss him," Mason said.
Alberta Federation of Labour President Gil McGowan said Lougheed was a visionary and principled leader.
"He was unafraid of challenging his successors as they moved away from his priorities for the province.
Even when he was being actively critical of governments and leaders who came after him, he was always statesmanlike, always with a view to the bigger picture of Albertans' public interest," McGowan said.
Lougheed's family thanked all the professionals at Alberta Health Services who have helped care for him over the last months and days, which included a stay at the Peter Lougheed Centre named after him.
He is survived by his wife of 60 years, Jeanne (née Rogers), four children and seven grandchildren. The family plans a private service, and a public memorial will be announced, said Lougheed family spokesman Jason Hatcher. "The family are extraordinarily touched and grateful — in fact, overwhelmed — by the outpouring from Albertans and Canadians," said Hatcher
"They're very touched by the sentiments and many memories that have been expressed."
Citing Lougheed's many charitable interests, including The Banff Centre and the Lougheed House Conservation Society, as well as sports, health, education, parks and public spaces and culture, the family asked that donations or volunteer actions be given in lieu of flowers.
"Any donations or volunteer actions that support his charitable interests would continue to fulfil his hopes and vision for Alberta and Canada," Hatcher said.
Edmonton Sun, Friday September 14 2012
Byline: Jackie E. Larson