Chris Curtis, who served Hampshire County Council from 1981-89, died last month and his funeral was held on Wednesday, February 9.
As leader of the Liberals - now known as the Liberal Democrats - he was best known for making the party a political force in Hampshire once again, as when he took over there were no Liberals on the council.
Paying tribute at a full council meeting, Liberal Democrat member for Yateley East and Blackwater, Cllr Adrian Collett, said: 'Chris was a natural leader and much respected at a time when the county council had 102 councillors, but no Liberal members.
'He was liberal to his core and believed individuals were the ones best suited to making decisions, as long as brought no harm to others.
'After leaving the county council he spent many years as a parish councillor, and I was honoured to be Chris' best man when he renewed his wedding vows around 20 years ago.
'I'm deeply saddened to see him taken far too early.'
Conservative member for Tadley and Baughurst, Cllr Derek Mellor, said: 'Chris was a tremendous parish councillor and his record as a Liberal councillor will, hopefully, remain unequalled.
'I would like to record my thanks for what Chris achieved locally.'
In their spare time, Chris and his wife Janet grew their own fruit and vegetables, selling what they didn't keep at the Wolverton Village Hall market.
The tributes paid at Hampshire County Council were followed by a moment of silence before the meeting continued.