05/12/2013 01:45 EDT | Updated 07/12/2013 05:12 EDT

Former Ontario New Democrat Peter Kormos remembered at public memorial

FONTHILL, Ont. - Friends and politicians paid tribute to the late Peter Kormos Saturday at a public memorial to the former NDP member of the legislature.

Kormos was 60 years old when he died suddenly at his Welland home on March 30.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath told those gathered in the nearby community of Fonthill that her former mentor was never a "yes man" and always answered to his constituents — not his political bosses.

Liberal Environment Minister Jim Bradley remembered Kormos as a fighter who never flinched from taking on the powerful and privileged.

Large bouquets of flowers and Kormos' infamous cowboy boots surrounded the urn holding his ashes at the front of the memorial chapel.

Kormos served in the legislature for 23 years until his retirement in 2011, and was elected last year to represent Welland on Niagara Regional Council.

"He treated cabinet ministers and cabinet makers the exact same way," Horwath said of the outspoken former MPP.

"You left behind a pair of cowboy boots that can never be filled."

Mike Grimaldi fought back tears as he remembered his longtime friend.

"Every man dies," Grimaldi said. "Not every man truly lives."

"Peter truly lived."

(CKTB, The Canadian Press)