Neil Reimer, the first leader of the Alberta New Democrats and the father of former Edmonton mayor Jan Reimer, has died.

Reimer, 89, died Tuesday night, a family spokesperson said.

Reimer became leader of the NDP in 1962 shortly after the party was formed and ran in two provincial elections.

Former party leader and MLA Ray Martin called Reimer an important figure in party history.


Neil Reimer is shown here on a 1984 CBC News program about the death of NDP leader Grant Notley in a plane crash. (CBC)

"We've lost sort of a giant of our movement," Martin said Wednesday.

"We think of Tommy Douglas and we think of David Lewis and Ed Broadbent but in Alberta, Neil Reimer was just as important to us to keep our movement going."

Brian Mason, the current leader of the Alberta NDP, offered condolences to Reimer's family in a written statement.

"Neil Reimer blazed a trail for workers in Alberta. He came to Alberta at a time when the oil industry was just heating up and workers needed representation. He provided leadership in the union movement on behalf of working people," Mason writes.

"As the first leader of our party, he brought vision and commitment to the task of organizing and leading for Alberta’s NDP building a strong foundation that is still making a difference today ... Alberta is a better place to live thanks to Neil’s decades of selfless service.

Reimer remained active in advocating for seniors and Martin saw him recently at a party event.

Reimer's daughter Jan Reimer is currently the executive director of the Alberta Council of Women's Shelters.