A prominent Windsor man, known for his political career and activism, has passed away.

Howard McCurdy was 85 years old, when he died peacefully Tuesday evening.

His daughter Leslie spoke with AM800 Wednesday  and said her father had been struggling to breathe, and has been suffering with multiple myeloma for a number of years and lost his battle with lung cancer.

The news is hitting the Windsor community hard.

“It's a loss not only for our community, but also for Canada," says Windsor West NDP MP Brian Masse.

In his early life, McCurdy founded the Guardian Club in 1962, a civil rights organization to fight racial discrimination in Windsor. McCurdy also founded and was the first president of the National Black Coalition of Canada in 1969.

"Here's someone who was at the forefront of all of this work for many, many decades ago, really laying the ground work for what we're seeing come to fruition today,” says Essex NDP MP Tracey Ramsey. “We owe a great debt of thanks to Howard McCurdy.”

McCurdy's activism led him to the highest of academic achievements.

The trained biochemist earned a PhD and later became the first black tenured professor in Canada, at the University of Windsor.

Former colleague Phil Alexander tells CTV News McCurdy was a history buff whose roots can be traced back to the Underground Railroad, which spurred his social activism.

“He had lots of suggestions that he was willing to follow up on, and he was encouraging others to follow up on, that would move toward a better society for everybody," remembers Alexander.

Most people will remember McCurdy from his political career. He was a city alderman for a decade, before turning to federal politics.

From 1984 to 1993, he served Windsor as a New Democrat MP, helping to shape the party.

“He was very much part of the creating and the naming,” says Masse. “There's a connection to his advocacy."

McCurdy is a member of the Order of Ontario and Order of Canada, honoured for being one of the most influential members of the region's African-Canadian community.

“He was unwavering, and that's the type of stability for real change, is having those anchors, and Howard was an anchor,” says Masse.

The family is in the process of finalizing funeral arrangements.