03/11/2013 01:51 EDT | Updated 05/11/2013 05:12 EDT

Former Newfoundland and Labrador cabinet minister Kevin Parsons Sr. dies at 82

ST. JOHN'S, N.L. - Kevin Parsons Sr., a former Tory cabinet minister in Newfoundland and Labrador, has died.

He was 82.

He was a fisherman, police officer and firefighter before entering provincial politics.

As the first mayor of Flatrock, a town just north of St. John's, he welcomed Pope John Paul II during the pontiff's visit to the province in 1984.

His son, Kevin, now sits in the legislature representing the riding of Cape St. Francis.

Premier Kathy Dunderdale rose in the provincial legislature today to recognize Parsons Sr. for his commitment to public service.

In a statement, she recalled how he and other fishermen saved the life of a downed U.S. airman who crashed off Flatrock while returning to an aircraft carrier.

"It was a moment of selflessness and heroism that defined his life," Dunderdale said.

"He was an example to all of us, and he will be greatly missed."

He died Sunday at the Health Sciences Centre in St. John's. A funeral service is scheduled for Wednesday in Flatrock.