A notable figure in Manitoba politics has died. Sidney Spivak was 74 years old.

"Members of our party, and, I think, Manitobans, are very shocked by this sudden loss of somebody who has made a great contribution to our province," said Stuart Murray, the current Tory leader.

"We stand in sympathy, but also in strength, on what he has done."

Spivak was a lawyer and businessman who was first elected to the legislature in the southwest Winnipeg riding of River Heights in 1966. He served as a cabinet member in the governments of Tory premiers Duff Roblin, Walter Weir and Sterling Lyon.

Spivak was party leader for four years in the early 1970s. He took over the party while it was in opposition and then-premier Ed Schreyer was leading Manitoba's first NDP government.

Spivak retired from politics after losing a bid for a seat in the House of Commons in 1979.

Laurie Mainster was a long-time friend and business associate of Spivak's. She says his political philosophy was simple and refreshing.

"He felt that sometimes you have to take roads that aren't easy to travel in order to get to the objective you want to reach. He was always reaching for the objective that he felt was right, for the province, in terms of his politics, and for the community," Mainster says.

A funeral service will be held Wednesday at 4 p.m. at the Shaarey Tzedek Synagogue in Winnipeg.