Lewis Rose was the longest serving councillor on Derbyshire Dales District Council.
Councillor Rose was the last founder member of the authority still serving, dating back to local Government reorganisation in the early 1970s.
He was leader of the Conservative group for 45 years until 2019.
The Union Flag at the district council's Matlock Town Hall headquarters has been lowered to half-mast as a mark of respect for the former leader and deputy leader of the authority.
The Carsington Water ward councillor lived in Kniveton, where he was a member of the parish council for many years.
Coun Rose’s successor as council leader, Coun Garry Purdy, said: “This is a terribly sad day.
“The local Government scene has lost a major player.
“Passionate in promoting the cause of small rural districts such as the Derbyshire Dales, for over 40 years Lewis was a force to be reckoned with, not only locally but also on the county, regional and national political scene.
“He was tireless in championing the Derbyshire Dales, fighting for its residents on the many different forums he served on and I cannot speak too highly of his dedication to public and political life.”
Leader of the district council’s Labour group, Coun Mike Ratcliffe, said: “Lewis was a politician of the ‘old school’, an effective adversary as well as a colleague.
“I knew him socially and in council; those who knew him were aware of his unfailing commitment to the residents of Derbyshire Dales, one that sometimes saw him criticising the Conservative Governments of the day.
“His work on our behalf cannot be overestimated and I for one regret his passing.
“We cannot go back to those days but he should be an example to which we all aspire.”
Leader of the district council’s Liberal Democrat group, Coun Steve Flitter, added: “The position of council leader is a massive task and it’s because of Coun Rose’s exemplary handling of that role over many years that we as members were able to get on with doing good work for the people of the Derbyshire Dales.”