Tributes flood in for former Alta. premier Peter Lougheed
A tour group is lead through the rotunda at the Alberta Legislature, Saturday September 15, 2012. Former Alberta Premier Peter Lougheed will be lying-in-state in the rotunda September 17 and 18. (DAVID BLOOM/QMI AGENCY)
Provincial speaker Gene Zwozdesky is touched by the tributes pouring in for his late co-worker and former Alberta premier Peter Lougheed.
Zwozdesky, who worked closely with Lougheed in the 1970s, called the former premier "an icon that will be sorely missed."
"I think the outpouring support is indicative of the stature of the man," Zwozdesky said.
"This surpasses anything that any of us could ever have imagined."
Zwozdesky worked with Lougheed on many education, arts and culture issues, including establishing second-language programs in Alberta schools. Lougheed also brought in the province's first-ever Ministry of Culture, Zwozdesky notes.
"I think one of the greatest moments was when Heritage Days just got started, in the 1970s, and I was asked to produce a show for Alberta, and Mr. Lougheed personally came down to say hello to all the children who were 14 and 15 years old," he said.
"That was the beginning of a man for whom I would only gain more and more respect for as the years went on."
Zwozdesky will help prepare the rotunda of the legislature where Lougheed will lie in state Monday and Tuesday. Lougheed's portrait currently sits in the rotunda with a bouquet of roses.
The public has been paying its respects on an online tribute page at Alberta.ca.
"He was just such a tremendous man of the people, regardless of their age, race, colour or creed," Zwozdesky said.
"I'm just really feeling sad."
Lougheed was a lawyer and an Edmonton Eskimos football player before serving as premier from 1971 to 1985. He died Thursday at age 84.
The province is expected to announce details shortly of a public memorial to celebrate Lougheeed's life.