Tributes have been paid to Harold Bodmer, the president of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) after his death.
The Norfolk CC executive director collapsed at a town hall meeting and could not be revived.
ADASS vice-president Margaret Willcox and immediate past-president Ray James said Mr Bodmer made an 'enormous contribution to the people of Norfolk, to our association and to the wider health and care sector'.
Deputy chief executive of the Local Government Association (LGA) and former ADASS president, Sarah Pickup, said she was 'devastated' by Mr Bodmer's death.
She added: 'Having known Harold for many years, he was not just a colleague but a close friend as well.
'I respected and admired Harold enormously for his unwavering commitment and dedication to social care, which was second to none.
'He had already made a major impact in his short time as ADASS president and the biggest tribute we can now all pay is to build on his legacy to strive for the vision of social care he articulated so passionately.
'He was a wonderful, kind and gentle man, and my thoughts and condolences are with his wife and children at this deeply distressing time.'
They said: 'In his too short months as ADASS president he had gained a reputation for straight-talking about the challenges facing social care and social work, and only last week was highlighting the financial pressures affecting the sector.
Chief social worker for adults, Lyn Romeo, said: 'He was a lovely, compassionate man, an exemplary public servant and the sector felt very proud to have him as a leader.'
Chairman of the LGA’s community wellbeing board, Cllr Izzi Seccombe, said: 'Harold was an incredibly hardworking, committed and hugely respected public servant who was dedicated to helping the most vulnerable people in society.
'He will be greatly missed by the health and social care sector.'
A statement from the council said Mr Bodmer would be ‘remembered for his kindness, generosity and commitment to Norfolk and social services more widely’.
The statement said: ‘Widely thought of as such a nice man and, at the same time, respected for his quiet determination, Harold’s motivation and achievements were powered by his deep commitment to social justice and human compassion.
‘We must all be awed by his ability to live these values over after many years of doing a top job in the midst of the political and financial challenges.’
‘Harold worked very hard. His choices were driven by his values.’
Mr Bodmer joined Norfolk CC as assistant director in 2003 and by 2006 he was director.
His peers welcomed him to the role of ADASS president with a standing ovation in April.
The statement said: ‘He had launched his presidential year with the quiet competence we would expect, taking meetings in Downing Street and interviews with the Today program in his stride.
‘He chose to use the platform afforded by this position to promote the cause of social care, and highlight in particular the need to rethink our approach to Home care.
‘We will find ways to honour his commitment to these causes in the coming weeks.
‘We know that we speak on behalf of everyone from across the health and social care services in Norfolk, when we express our most heartfelt condolences and sympathy to Harold’s wife Julie, daughter Holly, and sons Joel and Sam.
‘A lovely and loving family who had hoped to spend more time together as Harold looked forward to enjoying his presidential year with ADASS and took more time for himself.’
As a sign of respect for Harold, formal meetings in county hall will be cancelled for today.
Chair of the NHS Confederation, Stephen Dorrell, said: 'Over recent months we have got to know Harold in his new role as president of ADASS and to appreciate the thought and consideration he brought to complex debates around social care funding and his commitment to improving care locally.'
A joint statement from president of the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives, Mark Rogers, and chair, Gavin Jones, read: 'The tributes paid this week reflect his high standing right across the sector and that he worked incredibly hard to improve social care both in Norfolk and across the country.
'It is a tragic and untimely loss to public service of a truly caring and lovely man.'