Saskatchewan MLAs are mourning the death of one of their colleagues, who they say exemplified what a politician should be.

Kevin Phillips, the Sask. Party MLA for Melfort, died unexpectedly on Monday evening, according to the government. 

He was 63. 

Kevin Phillips

Kevin Phillips was first elected as Sask. Party MLA for Melfort in 2011 and again in 2016. (Sask Party)

"He's exactly that person that the public and society would hope that would be a politician," said Mark Docherty, MLA for Regina Coronation Park.

"We can all hope to have a little of Kevin Phillips within each of us, because that will make us all better. Not only better humans but also better politicians."

Premier Brad Wall said he and others were shocked by the sudden and unexpected death.

He said while the government caucus had faced loss before, including the death last year of Saskatoon MLA Roger Parent, this one came without warning.

"That's what makes it all the more difficult, I think," Wall said.

Brad Wall

Premier Brad Wall speaks about his colleague Kevin Phillips after the Melfort MLA's death on Monday evening. (Sask Legislative Assembly)

The premier said he had only learned Tuesday that Phillips would routinely call his wife at 9:30 p.m. on the nights he spent in Regina, which is how she knew something was wrong on Monday evening.

"That fact speaks to the faithfulness of a man. And the reliability of a man," Wall said.

He also noted that Phillips was happy to serve as an MLA, whether or not he was chosen to be in cabinet.

"There was no ego that drove his political motivations. He was really here out of service," Wall said, noting that Phillips had indicated he did not intend to run again in the next election.

Nicole Sarauer

Opposition leader Nicole Sarauer says Kevin Phillips was kind to newly elected members of the legislature, including her. (Mike Zartler/CBC)

Interim Opposition leader Nicole Sarauer also paid tribute to Phillips.

She said as a newer member of the legislature, she felt Phillips had taken her under his wing. 

"It meant a lot to me at that time," Sarauer said.

"I was new to this building and I didn't know a lot of people, especially on the other side. You don't see it very often in question period and what we do on a daily basis, but there are quite a few kind people that sit in that chamber."

Phillips was first elected as an MLA in 2011 and again in 2016.

Flags at half mast

Flags at the Saskatchewan Legislature were lowered to half mast to honour Kevin Phillips on Tuesday. (Stefani Langenegger/CBC)

According to his online biography on the party's website, Phillips lived in the Melfort constituency for almost 40 years.

He worked in business and advertising, including as a partner with the Melfort Journal for more than 25 years.

Before he was elected as an MLA, Phillips was mayor of Melfort.

Together, he and his wife April have four children and numerous grandchildren.

Flags at the Saskatchewan Legislature have been lowered in honour of Phillips.