Gerald Sheehy was a small-town veterinarian who went on to become a key figure in the government of former Nova Scotia premier John Buchanan.
Mr. Sheehy, a long-time resident of Middleton, N.S., entered public life in 1965 as a town councillor and deputy mayor.
He was elected to the Nova Scotia Legislature as Conservative member for Annapolis East in 1970 and played a prominent role when Mr. Buchanan came to power in 1978.
Mr. Sheehy served as health minister from 1978 until he retired from politics in 1985.
He also served as registrar-general and minister of agriculture and marketing before returning to Middleton. He died there on Monday at 85.
Mr. Buchanan said Mr. Sheehy "was the epitome of integrity, honesty and hard work."
"He was probably one of the best ministers of health this province has ever, ever had," he said. "I always like to say Gerry Sheehy was almost incapable of making an enemy. He was well liked by all members of the legislature, regardless of political party."
Mr. Buchanan said Mr. Sheehy's legacy in politics was his role in reorganizing the health system of Nova Scotia, particularly hospitals.
"We had the best health system anywhere in Canada. That's a legacy Gerry will always have," he said.