The former wife of Robin Cook has hailed him as a political "heavyweight" and an "exemplary" father.
Margaret Cook described her ex-husband as a "brilliant" man
Margaret Cook, who was married to the former minister for 28 years, was speaking of her shock at his death on a walking holiday in the Highlands.
Mr Cook, 59, was pronounced dead at Raigmore Hospital in Inverness after collapsing on Ben Stack in Sutherland.
Dr Cook said it was a "terrible tragedy" and that their two sons were "gutted" by the news.
The alarm was raised at about 1430 BST on Saturday when Mr Cook collapsed with an apparent heart attack as he and his second wife Gaynor were out walking.
Rescuers flew to the scene by helicopter and attempted to resuscitate him, but he was pronounced dead within minutes of being airlifted to Inverness.
Prime Minister Tony Blair led tributes from all sides of British politics, describing the Labour Livingston MP as an "outstanding, extraordinary talent".
And Mr Cook's former wife Margaret spoke of her sadness at his untimely death, saying he had suffered no previous illness.
Speaking from her home in Edinburgh, she said: "It's a terrible shock and a terrible tragedy.
"He was so young and had so much to offer.
"In these troubled political times he was a heavyweight on the right side, not least on the war in Iraq."
Dr Cook said their two sons were "gutted" by the news and were heading to Scotland from their homes in London and Bristol.
Margaret and Robin Cook had been married for 28 years
"One of his best attributes was that he was an exemplary father and he was so very close to them," she added.
Dr Cook said she was told of his death when sons Peter and Christopher had been informed by police.
She said: "I don't know what the funeral arrangements are going to be but I hope to attend.
"But obviously I will take Gaynor's wishes into account."
Speaking of his more than three decades in local, national and world politics, Dr Cook suggested his "starring role" was in opposition.
"He was an absolute brilliant, gold standard, in opposition.
Mr Cook was walking on Ben Stack when he collapsed
"He just knew how to do the background work and was a brilliant orator.
"The Scott Report was the top point in his career and he totally confounded the government of the day.
"I don't think he handled power well because of the necessary conflicts and deviations with his own essential personality and ethical style."
However, people should not underestimate how much his decision to quit the government over Iraq had cost him, she added.
"His whole life had been geared to getting into government and he was giving it up in a truly moral stand which was typical of him."