Albertans are sending their condolences after learning that former premier Don Getty has died at the age of 82.

Getty took the reins of the Progressive Conservative Party after Peter Lougheed and served as premier from 1985 to 1992.

The football player-turned-politician — he helped the Edmonton Eskimos win two Grey Cups — led the province during one its worst economic downturns.

Both Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Alberta Premier Rachel Notley tweeted condolences early Friday morning.

Jim Horsman, who was Getty's deputy premier, remembered his close friend as a proud Canadian who was passionate about keeping the country united.

"He was very diligent in efforts to make sure that Quebec was part of the Canadian fabric, going through Meech Lake and then Charlottetown," he said.

"It was a 10-year period after the constitutional repatriation that he had to deal with. I think that we didn't succeed but at least we made a valiant effort, particularly in the arena of senate reform, you may recall."

Former energy minister Rick Orman says the economic situation Getty faced in the mid-80s was even more challenging than the current one.

"We were up around an 11-per cent unemployment rate, and so the challenges were significant at the time," he said. "Governments today are struggling to try and deal with $35 to $45 oil and we had to deal with nine to $10 oil."

Longtime Tory organizer Alan Hallman also praised Getty for his contributions to Alberta. 

"Don was a tremendous man, he showed great leadership in this province, not only as a premier but as a quarterback for the Edmonton Eskimos," he said. 

In a written statement, Premier Notley said Getty contributed a lot to Alberta, including his work to establish Albertans' constitutional rights as owners of the province's natural resources and his role in the creation of the Heritage Savings Trust Fund.

Family Day part of Getty's legacy 

"But his greatest legacy was his support of families and the introduction of Family Day — a holiday where Alberta families could spend time together, strengthen bonds and reconnect," she said.

"Several other provinces followed suit, and Family Day is now celebrated in Saskatchewan, Ontario and British Columbia."

Wildrose Party Leader Brian Jean issued a statement saying Albertans have lost a man who loved and was dedicated to the province.

"As Minister for Federal and Intergovernmental Affairs, as well as Minister of Energy during the 1970s, he stood up tall for our province on the national stage and served Alberta as premier with determination during difficult economic challenges," Jean said.

Alberta Liberal Leader David Swann said his thoughts and prayers are with Getty's family.

"As a youngster, I remember watching him guide the Eskimos to the Grey Cup championship. He brought that energy and leadership to his career in politics," he said in a statement.

"Don was dedicated to Alberta and all Albertans, he will be missed."