Terry Fox's father, Rolly Fox, died Tuesday afternoon following a battle with lung cancer.

The family made the announcement in a statement on the Terry Fox Foundation website.

"Rolland Murray Fox died late afternoon on March 8 while listening to a little Hank Williams," the family said. "He fulfilled his promise to Terry facing cancer with courage, grace and plenty of humour." 

Rolly Fox, 80, began smoking at age 19 and quit on a dare from his brother in 1986, the family said in January, noting Fox had completed a 16-kilometre run the following year.

The patriarch was a "behind-the-scenes believer" of his son's mission for 36 years and after the 2011 death of his wife and Terry Fox's mother, Betty Fox, he became more active, visiting Terry Fox Runs across Canada.

"We have witnessed once again the pain cancer causes but we know, oh how we know, that we are not alone," said the family.

"We have seen first hand the opportunities to extend life because of our nation's collective belief and investment in cancer research, yet have been forced to accept that they were not available to Dad/Grandpa."

Premier, mayor offer condolences

In a statement issued late Tuesday, B.C. Premier Christy Clark said "B.C., Canada, and the world have lost a dedicated, resolute pillar in the fight against cancer in Rolly Fox."

"He made the hero's dream to beat cancer stronger and closer — not just for him, but the millions of people inspired by him and the Fox family, and the thousands of families forever changed by life-saving cancer research."

Port Coquitlam Mayor Greg Moore, whose dad coached Terry Fox, also had a few words to share about Rolly Fox, whom he said he had known for as long as he could remember.

"He was a quiet, behind-the-scenes individual, but he had a great sense of humour," said Moore. "He was just fun to be around."

With files from Canadian Press