Donald Ross Getty was born on August 30, 1933, in Westmount, Quebec to Charles Ross Getty and Beatrice Lillian Hampton. He attended the University of Western Ontario, and graduated in 1955 with a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) degree in Business Administration.
Sports were an early and enduring passion for Don. He was quarterback of the University’s football team, and starting guard of the basketball team. He was named Western’s Most Outstanding Athlete of 1955, and in 1980 his name was added to the University of Western Ontario’s Athletics Hall of Fame.
Two weeks after his University graduation, Don married his high school sweetheart, Margaret Mitchell. The couple soon moved to Edmonton where Don would join the Edmonton Eskimos professional football team as quarterback. He played for the “Green and Gold” for the next ten years, leading the team to two consecutive Grey Cup championships in 1955 and 1956. In 1959 he was named Outstanding Canadian in the CFL’s Western Conference.
In 1955, while still playing for the Eskimos, Don was recruited by Imperial Oil, and began a distinguished career in Alberta’s burgeoning oil industry. By 1964 he had joined Baldonnel Oil and Gas, becoming the youngest independent oil company president in Canada.
Don Getty’s prominence in Alberta’s energy industry caught the eye of fellow Edmonton Eskimo veteran Peter Lougheed. In 1965 Lougheed asked Don to join the fledging Progressive Conservative party and run for office. In 1967 Don was one of the original six Progressive Conservative MLAs elected to the Alberta Legislature.
As the member for Strathcona-West, Don served as a member of the official opposition. Four years later he would run in the newly formed constituency of Edmonton-Whitemud, and his party would form the first Progressive Conservative government in Alberta.
Don Getty was appointed Minister for Federal and Intergovernmental Affairs, the first to ever hold the position. In this role, Don’s knowledge of the oil industry gave him the expertise and experience to advocate for Alberta’s interests on the national stage. He helped to establish Albertan’s constitutional rights as owners of the province’s natural resources, and worked with Premier Lougheed to create the Heritage Savings Trust Fund.
Following 12 years in the Legislature, Don left politics and returned to the energy industry to found D. Getty Investments Limited. He was chair and CEO of the Nortek Energy Corporation, and served on the board of Royal Bank, IPSCO, Genstar and several others.
Following Premier Lougheed’s resignation in 1985, Don made the decision to re-enter politics and was elected leader of the Progressive Conservative Party.
On November 1, 1985, he was sworn in as Alberta’ 11th Premier.
Premier Getty’s government distinguished itself through a focus on economic diversification. It helped establish the growth of forestry, technology and non-conventional oil projects in Alberta. His government also took a lead role in advocating for self-government for Metis Settlements, increasing school choice through the School Act of 1988, the expansion of Grant MacEwan campus in downtown Edmonton, the appointment of Canada’s first elected senator, and the creation of Family Day. Premier Getty also played an important leadership role during negotiations for the Free Trade Agreement, senate reform, the Meech Lake Accord, and the Charlottetown Accord.
Premier Getty led his party to majority governments in 1986 and 1989,representing the constituencies of Edmonton-Whitemud and Settler. In 1992 Premier Getty retired from politics.
After his time as Premier, Don returned to the private sector and served on the boards of several prominent corporations, as well as the Resources of Canada Fund.
Among the many highlights of his political career Premier Getty and his wife Margaret were honoured to be invited by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth ll, and Prince Philip to join them in the Royal Box at Royal Ascot.
Premier Getty was an Officer of the Order of Canada and a member of the Alberta Order of Excellence. He was an Honourary Chief (“Kinnosayoo”) of the Whitefish Lake Cree Band, and was awarded the Order of the Sash by the Metis Nation of Alberta for his work with aboriginal communities. He is also remembered for his football career on the Edmonton Eskimos’ Wall of Honour.
At the time of Don’s death, he and Margaret had been married for 60 years. They were the proud parents of four sons: Dale, David, Darin and Derek, and grandparents to seven grandchildren.
The family wishes to express their sincerest gratitude to all the caring and compassionate staff of the Devonshire care facility.