Former Lieutenant Governor and provincial cabinet minister Ed Roberts died Friday at the age of 81.

Roberts was one of the province’s most well-known and respected lawyers and politicians. He was first elected to the House of Assembly in 1966 and served in Joey Smallwood’s cabinet as minister of public welfare and minister of health. He became Liberal leader and leader of the official opposition after Smallwood resigned in 1972.

Roberts left politics in 1985, but returned in 1993 to serve as justice minister in the cabinets of Clyde Wells and Brian Tobin. Roberts retired from politics again in 1996.

In 2002, Roberts was sworn in as the 11th Lieutenant Governor of Newfoundland and Labrador, and served in that role until 2008. He was invested as a member of the Order of Canada in 2010.

“Today, the province has lost a remarkable person in Ed Roberts,” Premier Andrew Furey said in a statement. “He served the public for decades, and as a political leader, he oversaw considerable reform in healthcare, education and social services. He was also well-respected in the legal community where he practiced for many years. On a personal note, I turned to Ed for sage advice and enjoyed lively conversations about our province with him. On behalf of all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, I offer my sincerest condolences to his wife Eve, their children and grandchildren.”

The flags at all Provincial Government buildings will be lowered to half-mast until sunset on the day of Roberts’ funeral.