10/11/2014 09:19 EDT | Updated 12/11/2014 05:59 EST

Former Halifax mayor Walter Fitzgerald dies

Former Halifax mayor Walter Fitzgerald died in hospital early Saturday morning.

The 78-year-old former schoolteacher turned political figure had a heart condition.

Fitzgerald was in office on both the municipal and provincial levels, and served as mayor of Halifax in two separate stints. His preference was municipal politics, said his wife, Linda.

"He loved Halifax," she said, adding that his political motto was "People are the priority."

Fitzgerald also has the distinction of being the final mayor of the old City of Halifax and the first mayor of HRM.

Fitzgerald left politics in 2000 after being defeated for the mayor's chair by Peter Kelly.

In recent years, Fitzgerald and his wife spent their time between Queensland, Nova Scotia, and Florida, where Fitzgerald would golf.

At their home in Queensland, Fitzgerald would spend his time working on projects, such as a garden which attracted deer. Instead of considering them as pests, he cared about their well-being.

"He'd worry if he hadn't seen the deer in a while," said Linda.

Fitzgerald grew up in Armdale and is survived by Linda, four children, and nine grandchildren.