Hugh Shearer, 81, a prime minister in the early stages of Jamaica's independence, died Monday at his home in Kingston, his family announced. The cause of death was not reported.
Serving as prime minister from 1967 to 1972, Shearer succeeded Donald Sangster, who died in office.
Shearer's "death has deprived Jamaica of a quintessential nationalist and a dedicated political leader," said Jamaican Prime Minister P.J. Patterson.
Many credited Shearer with overseeing one of the nation's most stable economic periods and with building dozens of primary schools.
The economy grew at an average annual rate of 6% during his time in office, compared with 2.1% in 2003.
Born in the north Jamaican village of Martha Brae, Shearer was educated at St. Simon's College in Kingston.
He earned his law degree from Howard University in Washington, D.C.
Shearer was a journalist at the Jamaica Worker from 1941 to 1947 before seeking public office.