Graham Hewitt, who was granted the Freedom of the Borough of Gosport in 2013, became a Labour councillor at the age of 21 and served as the borough’s then youngest mayor from 1974.
His career saw him serve the community by working in The News’ office in Gosport High Street, starting as a clerk at the age of 16 and retiring more than 50 years later as director of management services and company secretary.
Alongside his wife, Juliette, he founded the Gosport & Fareham branch of the Multiple Sclerosis Society, overseeing funding raising that brought in hundreds of thousands of pounds for the cause.
The couple were awarded the British Empire Medal for their services to charity in the 2018 New Year’s Honours.
He is survived by Juliette and by their sons Jonathan, a consultant psychiatrist, and Phil, arts editor for The News’ sister titles in West Sussex.
Phil said: ‘When I joined the company myself in 1990, everyone was rushing to tell me of the endless kindnesses dad had shown them. He had an amazing generosity of spirit. It was so lovely to find out I was working for a company in which dad seemed to be everyone’s favourite person.
‘Dad’s kind of socialism was a belief in kindness, a belief that we are all here to help each other.
‘He had huge compassion. Dad was a wonderful father and a wonderful grandfather. We will all cherish the memory of a man who had huge impact on Gosport. Everyone seemed to know him. But also a man who inspired his whole family. He will be hugely missed.’
The family hopes to hold a memorial service later in the year when public gatherings restrictions are limited.
Phil said: ‘In these troubled times, inevitably the funeral will be a very small family affair, but we are really hoping to hold a memorial service for him, to which all will be welcome.
‘In the meantime, our thanks to the Langdale Nursing Home in Gosport who looked after him so beautifully in his final months.’