The former newspaper editor and Progressive Conservative politician was never shy in her public life in Nova Scotia.
Her death was confirmed by family members Saturday evening. She died earlier in the day at her home.
Online condolences from politicians, journalists, and friends poured in following news of her death.
“Terrible news,” tweeted Nova Scotia Premier Darrell Dexter. “Nova Scotia has lost a strong, fair voice in politics and the media. My thoughts are with Jane’s family and friends.”
“Very sad to learn my dear friend and colleague Jane Purves has died. She kept her wry wit to the end. RIP Jane. Prayers for her family,” tweeted CBC’s Jean Laroche.
Purves spent the majority of her career in journalism, serving as managing editor of the Halifax paper, the Chronicle Herald.
Purves switched to politics in 1999, when she won a seat for the PCs in South End Halifax.
She grew up in the area – one of four children of a well-known doctor.
"Jane was a remarkable person, fair, honest, understood things exceptionally well,” said John Hamm, who lead the PCs during her time in politics. “[She] was non-partisan and simply did not make an enemy in politics. That's the kind of politician we need more of today."
Shortly after winning the election, Purves disclosed a past addiction to hard drugs. She made the bold decision to call a news conference hours after a reporter asked her about past drug use.
Purves admitted it took a toll on her life, telling reporters she had lost custody of her child for a number of years and had contracted Hepatitis C.
But Purves’ revelation had no effect on her place in Hamm’s government. She held two senior portfolios: education and health.
Purves was defeated after just one term, in part because she was blamed for a planned school closure in her riding. She briefly edited the Daily News, before returning as Hamm’s chief of staff during his second term.
Purves was a frequent commentator, including making several appearances on the CBC.
In February, she received a Diamond Jubilee medal from Liberal MP Scott Brison.