He was the king.

Ralph Klein left his footprint on his hometown and the province he ruled over three decades. Klein captivated his audience through charisma and political prowess.

Klein, 70, died March 29 from complications related to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease at a southwest palliative care centre.

In the wake of his death, Calgarians recalled King Ralph’s legacy. Some people remembered him as a jovial character, and others praised him for slaying the province’s $23-billion debt.

Others acknowledge how his antics “really ticked you off,” but in the end they all agreed that he had a great way of connecting with Albertans.

 “He’s an amazing leader. Alberta’s where we are because of him. When we lived in Fort McMurray, there was a big snow fest out at Gregoire Lake and Mr. Klein came up there and took part in the dog sled races and our daughters actually had a picture taken with him. He’s an awesome people person. We wish all the best to his family.”

—Tina Gaudet

 

 

“Ralph Klein ran the province as a business. He didn’t have hidden agendas — he was what he was. He took us out of debt and did all these different things. The thing I like about Ralph Klein was that he was a businessman, he looked at it as, ‘How can we run this as a business?’ as opposed to ‘What am I going to politically gain?’ Who’d want to be the premier for crying out loud? To be honest, the pain that goes on with that… who’d want to do that?”

—Gary Robillard 

 

“I remember Ralph Klein back in the later seventies when he was running for mayor because his election office was right across the street from a restaurant that I managed. He was a great guy, everybody really loved him, and he was really outgoing. He would be at all the Stampede parties and barbecues. I think he was a great mayor, he did a lot for our city.”

—Wendy McDougall 

 

 “I remember Ralph fondly, he was a great mayor and a really good premier. He did a lot of great thing. Getting the books balanced was probably the biggest (achievement)  but he was a man of the people and he seemed to relate to so many different people and he had a great way of connecting with them.”

-Larry Schwartzenberger

 

 “He straightened out the council when he was mayor. But his biggest accomplishment was killing the debt, which of course we’re back into again.”

—Al Sloan

 

 “He’s not to be forgotten, he has a presence and he really ticked you off or he really inspired you.”

—Adele Henderson

oguymccarvill@cjournal.ca

Read more about the legacy of Ralph Klein here.

What do you remember about Ralph Klein?