Former Alberta premier Ralph Klein was made an Officer of the Order of Canada Tuesday at Calgary city hall.

Klein is battling a form of dementia, and no longer makes public appearances, so Governor General David Johnston presented the award to his wife Colleen in a special service. The Governor General also presented her with a Queen's Diamond Jubilee medal. 

Johnston said in a news release last week that Klein made "lasting contributions to the province of Alberta and to public life in Canada."

Rod Love, a close friend of the Kleins, says his former boss would have been humbled.

"He always felt his award was public service," he said. "He appreciated the medals he got because of the sentiments behind the people that gave them, but you know Ralph — it wasn't about the medals it was about the people."

Klein was elected leader of Alberta's Progressive Conservative Party on Dec. 5, 1992, and was sworn in as Alberta's 12th premier nine days later.

He then led the party to victory in 1993 and again in 1997 and 2001.

Prior to entering provincial politics, Klein served three terms as mayor of Calgary, starting in 1980 after a career in the media.

"Premier Klein dedicated much of his life serving Albertans in both municipal and provincial government," said Alberta Premier Alison Redford in a release. 

"During his time in public service he made some very challenging decisions in order to grow our economy. He also created an endearing and enduring relationship with Albertans, who affectionately refer to him as Ralph."

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Colleen Klein, wife of former Alberta Premier Ralph Klein, shows a Klein election badge after accepting the Order of Canada from Governor General David Johnston on behalf of her husband in Calgary Tuesday. Ralph Klein was unable to attend due to his severe dementia. (Larry MacDougal/Canadian Press)

With files from CBC News