Tony Kelly took Dubbo from a "country centre to a bustling regional city", says his successor as general manager at the former Dubbo City Council.
"During Tony's term as town clerk/general manager, Dubbo was recognised as the 'fastest growing inland city in Australia'," Mark Riley said on Friday.
Known affectionately as "TC", Mr Kelly died on Thursday at the age of 77 years.
Mr Riley, Emeritus Mayor Allan Smith who was mayor when Mr Kelly retired in 2004, and current mayor of the Dubbo region Ben Shields have paid tribute to their mentor.
Mr Riley said the mantle of "fastest growing inland city in Australia posed "significant growth challenges".
"Whilst other localities, at the time, had pursued the "niceties" such as theatres and galleries, Tony focused on ensuring that Dubbo had the infrastructure to keep growing in terms of water, sewer and roads," he said.
"Dubbo's infrastructure in these important areas allowed the city to grow at a most rapid rate during the 70s and 80s."
Mr Riley said his former boss' vision for Dubbo also included significant recreational areas and financial stability.
"..that vision is evident by the riverside ovals which are the envy of many a regional and metropolitan city," Mr Riley said.
"He corporatised the council in 1993 such that it operated as an effective and efficient business that was highly regarded by government.
"He along with Graham Marchant and others worked successfully on the finances of council to ensure it was financially solid."
Mr Kelly worked for Dubbo City Council for 36 years.
He started as assistant accountant in 1968 but by 1975 was town clerk after a stint as deputy town clerk.
Mr Kelly became general manager in 1994 under a new Local Government Act and in the lead up to his retirement in late 2004 was praised by the then mayor, one of nine he supported across almost three decades.
"He has overseen the massive growth of this city," Allan Smith said in May 2004.
On Friday, the Emeritus Mayor remained grateful.
"He always had Dubbo in his heart," Mr Smith said.
Mr Smith said Mr Kelly knew local government inside out.
"He was a very, very, very good mentor to have on your side," the Emeritus Mayor said.
Mr Smith said councils changed and councillors came and went during the city's previous heydays.
"During that period there was one constant and that was Tony Kelly," he said.
Cr Shields said he valued Mr Kelly's "guidance and vision" and pointed to sporting fields.
"We can count as his legacy the treasured recreation assets within the city that are the river corridor, Lady Cutler Park, soccer facilities, Ollie Robbins Oval, Nita McGrath Netball complex and the north Dubbo river bank ovals which include the Dave Martin cricket nets," he said.
"Additionally the cycleway to the zoo and around the West Dubbo riverbank and across the cycleway bridge to link Tamworth Street are all initiatives of Mr Kelly as general manager."
Cr Shields noted Mr Kelly's involvement in community organisations and groups including Westhaven Ltd and Dubbo CYMS Cricket Club.
A requiem mass to celebrate Mr Kelly's life will be held in St Brigid's Catholic Church, Brisbane Street, Dubbo, from 10.30am on Wednesday, December 2.
He is survived by wife Barbara, four children and eight grandchildren.
The funeral is in the care of Abbey Funeral Home.