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Ron Hayter, Edmonton’s longest-serving councillor, died on Saturday, April 21, 2018. (City Hall) Edmonton’s longest-serving city councillor Ron Hayter died on Saturday. He was 81.

The former councillor had been living in a St. Albert seniors’ home, and died in his sleep after he contracted pneumonia in recent days, his family told CTV News.

Hayter was born in Saskatchewan and came to Alberta when he was 22 for a job at the Edmonton Journal. He was first elected to council in 1971, stepped down in 1995 to join the National Parole Board, and returned six years later.

The 81-year-old served eight different mayors during his 33 years in council before he retired in 2010.

“You can’t really go anywhere in Edmonton and not be somewhere where he didn’t have some kind of an influence – where he didn’t make a difference,” his daughter, Sparkle, told CTV News. “He loved Edmonton with all his heart.”

Former mayor Stephen Mandel says everything Hayter worked on turned out to be a success. Hayter was passionate about sports, forward-thinking development and recycling programs, but 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,” Mandel said. “When he was on city council with us, he was the leader on our First Nations and Indigenous Peoples’ strategies, and we developed all kinds of new relationships with Indigenous Peoples."

‘Everybody liked him’

Hayter, who is in Canada’s baseball Hall of Fame and was a part of the World Boxing Association, travelled all over the world and met the likes of Muhammad Ali and Fidel Castro. He was friendly with the Cuban leader for some time.

“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 said. “That was the end of their baseball friendship.”

His daughter also recounted the time when her father made royalty laugh.

“In ’83, when Princess Diana and Prince Charles came to Canada … she celebrated her 22 nd birthday in Edmonton, and Prince Charles sat with my mom and dad at their table at this Klondike event,” she said. “Dad did a dance on the stage with Klondike cake and got Princess Diana laughing, and I always loved that dad was able to make her laugh.”

A palpable absence

Hayter’s daughter and her family are in the early stages of mourning the death of who she calls “a mountain of a man.”

“It’s going to take us a while to really process the loss,” Sparkle said. “We’re sticking together and we’re talking to each other and we’re honouring our father.”

Funeral details have not been set, but Sparkle believes Edmontonians will pay their respects after her father served the city for so long.“I think he would see his family as being larger than his blood relatives,” she said. “I think he would see it as being pretty much the whole City of Edmonton.” Most Watched

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