'Extraordinary Albertan': Funeral held for former premier Don Getty
Michael Shulman, CTVNews.ca
Published Saturday, March 5, 2016 7:08AM EST
Last Updated Saturday, March 5, 2016 2:39PM EST
Don Getty, the former CFL quarterback and Alberta's 11th premier, was remembered as a "family man" and an "extraordinary Albertan" at a state funeral honouring his life on Saturday.
Roughly 600 people, including Premier Rachel Notley, were in attendance for the service at Edmonton’s All Saints Cathedral.
Getty died at long-term care centre in the city last week at the age 82, after battling illness for a number of years.
Notley made the opening remarks at the affair and spoke fondly of Getty, calling him an "extraordinary Albertan" who "put his heart and soul" into public service.
Getty served as Alberta's premier from 1986 to 1992, presiding over one of the most difficult economic periods in the province's history, as the price of oil plummeted. He had previously worked as the energy minister and federal intergovernmental affairs minister.
Notley said her father, who served as a member of the legislative assembly and later as the leader of the Alberta NDP, shared a "mutual respect and "understanding."
"When my father passed away, Don and (his wife Margaret Mitchell) reached out to us. The compassion they shared with my family in that difficult time has stayed with me," she said.
"They knew that family and kindness should always transcend politics."
Notley said it was also important to remember Getty’s "key developments," including his role expanding MacEwan University's downtown campus in Edmonton, his role advocating for Metis rights, the creation of Family Day, and his leadership role in giving voice to Alberta's energy issues at a national level.
"In short, our province has lost an incredible champion, (and) a strong and compassionate leader," Notley said. "On behalf of all Albertans, I extend my great sympathy, and my great respect, to Margaret and the Getty family, and to Don's many friends across our nation."
In addition to his life in politics, Getty was also an oil businessman and a star quarterback for the Edmonton Eskimos from 1955 to 1965.
Across ten seasons, Getty threw for nearly 9,000 yards and was named to the team's Wall of Fame in 1992. He is considered to be one of the greatest Canadian-born quarterbacks to ever play the game.
Two of Getty's sons, Darin and Derek, delivered emotional speeches on Saturday that recalled their father's dedication to his family.
Darin Getty said it was "tough losing a father," and "tougher losing a friend." He described his father as a "family man" and a "man of conviction."
He said despite his father's struggle with illness, he never became frustrated about his condition.
"In the last few years, when he wasn't well, he handled every day with dignity and honour -- he never complained ever, right till the bitter end," said Darin Getty.
"He was a great example for us all."
Derek Getty also called his father a "great family man," and reminisced about a time when he took him and his brother to Edmonton's summer exhibition, or K-Days, and played a carnival game that involved throwing footballs through tires. He said his father started winning, and at first gave him and his brother teddy bear prizes. Eventually, Getty had won so many that he was giving them out to passersby at the fair.
"At 45 in a row the guy looked at him and said, 'Alright Sir, move along," recalled Derek Getty.
"I can't think of a better example for a son than the way he treated people."