EDMONTON — A man believed to be the longest-serving city councillor in Edmonton's history has died.
Family members say Ron Hayter, who was 81, contracted pneumonia recently and died in his sleep on Saturday at a seniors home in the nearby community of St. Albert.
Hayter was born in Saskatchewan and came to Alberta at the age of 22 for a job at the Edmonton Journal newspaper.
He was first elected to council in 1971 but stepped down in 1995 to join the National Parole Board.
He was elected to office again six years later.
Hayter served under eight different mayors during his 33 years on council before retiring in 2010.
"You can’t really go anywhere in Edmonton and not be somewhere where he didn’t have some kind of an influence," his daughter, Sparkle, told CTV News. "He loved Edmonton with all his heart."
Former mayor Stephen Mandel says everything Hayter worked on was a success. Mandel especially credits the late councillor for leading the way in helping reconcile with First Nations communities.
"He had a great relationship with the community," said Mandel. "When he was on council, he was the leader on our First Nations and Indigenous Peoples strategies, and we developed all kinds of new relationships with Indigenous people."
Hayter was inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in 2006 and was also part of the World Boxing Association. He travelled the world and met many luminaries, including former heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali and Cuban president Fidel Castro.
"Fidel would call the house sometimes on baseball business until all of those players defected and then that was the last time Fidel called, and it was an abusive phone call," Sparkle Hayter said. "That was the end of their baseball friendship."
She also recounted the time when her father made royalty laugh. It occurred when Prince Charles and his wife, Diana, were in Edmonton in 1983. Hayter and his wife sat at a table with the royal couple during one particular event.
"Dad did a dance on the stage with Klondike Kate and got Princess Diana laughing. I always loved that dad was able to make her laugh."
Funeral details are pending. (CTV Edmonton)
The Canadian Press