Tribues have flowed for former Shellharbour mayor David Hamilton, following his death over the weekend.
Mr Hamilton, 67, died at his Oak Flats home on Saturday, after battling leukaemia for several months.
News of Mr Hamilton's death quickly filtered to his friends and colleagues, who remembered him as a staunch Labor man and passionate trade unionist.
Former Illawarra (now the seat of Shellharbour) MP Terry Rumble recalled the first time the pair met more than 50 years ago.
"I took him to his first [Labor party branch] meeting at Warrawong Community Hall in the early '60s," he said. "From that day on we were friends."
Mr Rumble said Mr Hamilton had been a great help to him during his campaigns for re-election and had been one of his strongest supporters while he was in office.
He described Mr Hamilton as a "loyal member of the ALP", who always spoke his mind and loved to laugh.
"If David gave you his word on something, he kept it," Mr Rumble said.
"He was a very reliable man."
Mr Hamilton was born in Scotland and spent several years living in the Illawarra before permanently migrating in 1980.
His 20-year stint as a machine operator at the Port Kembla steelworks sparked his interest in unionism and he quickly became a delegate for his trade union.
His passion turned into a full-time job when he became a local union official, later taking on a state secretary role.
In the early '90s, Mr Hamilton decided to try his hand at local government and was elected to Shellharbour City Council in 1991. He spent nearly 10 years on the council, serving as deputy mayor from 1996 to 1999, before he was elected mayor in 2004.
Mr Hamilton's time as mayor ended when the council was sacked in 2008, following a three-week public inquiry.
Former Kiama MP Bob Harrison nominated Mr Hamilton for life membership of the ALP several years ago.
He described Mr Hamilton as a "Labor man of the old type", who was a loyal and decent friend.
"I liked him straight away, he was straight up ... you didn't have to worry about him back-stabbing," he said. "He supported me but he also told me when he wasn't going to support me, he was very up front ... we just had that kind of relationship, he never took anyone for granted."
Mr Hamilton's daughter Louise Hogan said her father was simply "the best".
"Any time we needed or wanted anything, he was there," she said.
"His grandchildren loved him and he absolutely adored them."
Mr Hamilton’s Scottish relatives have also expressed their grief at his death.
Two of his daughters, Sharon and Lorne, still live in Scotland but regularly kept in contact with their father right up until his death.
‘‘We talked often on the phone, and I phoned him all the time when he wasn’t well,’’ Sharon Hamilton told the Mercury.
‘‘We’ll all miss him very much.’’
Ms Hamilton remembered her father as a loyal man.
‘‘If you needed him he’d be there for you,’’ she said.
Ms Hamilton said she would be unable to fly to Australia for the funeral and was deeply saddened to have to miss it.
Mr Hamilton is survived by his wife, Moira, daughters, Yvonne, Louise, Sharon and Lorne, son, Stephen, and his four grandchildren.
His funeral will be held on Thursday at Hansen & Cole.