Klein fondly remembered by former St. Louis Hotel owner
Published Thursday, April 4, 2013 3:58PM MDT Last Updated Thursday, April 4, 2013 6:45PM MDT
On Friday, hundreds of Albertans will gather to officially say their farewells to former Alberta Premier and Mayor of Calgary Ralph Klein.
The days following Klein's passing have been filled with reflection and the sharing of tales from the life of the colourful politician and reporter.
Morris Blitt, the former co-owner of the St. Louis Hotel, says Klein frequented the bar as a CFCN reporter. Many pivotal moments in Ralph's career took place within the confines of the hotel’s tavern including the day Klein announced his candidacy for the position of Calgary's mayor.
Blitt owned the hotel with his late father and met Klein a few years after opening the business. From there they cemented a strong and long-lasting friendship with the colourful politician.
"He was in the bar when he decided with the people he was talking to that he was going to make the run and he told my father and my father gave him his first donation for his campaign," says Blitt.
Klein brought many of his political friends to the tavern and was known to use the establishment as an unofficial second office.
Blitt says Klein came to the St. Louis with other politicians but he always made sure to make his way through the bar to greet all of the customers.
“That showed me the difference between a politician and a person, and that's what Ralph always was, a person,” says Blitt. “He just happened to be a politician."
Blitt says from the donation made to Klein's first campaign to Klein's retirement in 2006, the same year the St. Louis Hotel closed, Blitt and his family were always there.
"The day we closed the bar and he retired we actually presented him with his chair to take home," says Blitt. "I don't know what he ever did with it."
Blitt came back to visit the St Louis Wednesday, only the second time since closing its doors.
Blitt says the loss of his father four years ago and now the passing of Ralph have been very difficult, but looking up at the old building is a reminder of the good times they shared over the last 20 years.
With files from Kathy Le