Lieutenant Colonel George MacLeod led Rotorua's Anzac Day parade for 50 years as a mark of respect for his fellow servicemen and women.
The 86-year-old, who served in World War II, died last Tuesday and was farewelled by more than 200 people at Arawa Park Racecourse on Saturday.
Mr MacLeod moved to Tauranga four years ago and was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2010.
Family members contacted by The Daily Postspoke of a man with a strong sense of humour - a man who helped organise his own funeral and on finding out it was to be semi-military, said he would "quite enjoy attending that".
"That was just typical," said his daughter Jeannie MacLeod Crawford.
Son Duncan said his father had two philosophies - to be 100 per cent honest and to always have a sense of humour.
"A lot of those who spoke at the service spoke of his ability to give advice, in other words his opinion, and his sense of humour. He was my hero, role model. He was intelligent, wise, quick of mind ..." Duncan said.
Mr MacLeod spent more than 30 years in Rotorua. Born in London, he moved to New Zealand when the war ended after meeting wife Shirley Williams in Auckland.
The couple married in 1949 and in 1956 moved to Rotorua where Mr MacLeod sold real estate and insurance.
They had three children and the MacLeods moved to Auckland in the early 1970s, but Mr MacLeod travelled to Rotorua each year to lead the Anzac Day parade. They moved back to Rotorua in 1989, and Mrs MacLeod died in 2003. While in Rotorua Mr MacLeod served voluntarily on Whare Aroha's board of trustees for 17 years.
In 2007 he led his 50th and final Anzac Day parade and was awarded a Queen's Service Medal for services to returned services personnel and the community.
Jeannie said her father led the parade for so many years as a mark of respect for his fellow servicemen and women.
"That was something he could contribute, to honour his comrades."
Mr MacLeod was just 15 when he went to war to serve with the British Royal Marines, eventually transferring to the Royal New Zealand Navy in May 1944.
From 1946 to 1949, he served with J Force in Japan, reverting to the British Royal Marines in September 1949.
In 1951 he enlisted in the Territorial Force of the New Zealand Army, and in 1955 joined 1 Hauraki Regiment (as it was then known).
In 1966, he was appointed Commanding Officer of the 6th Battalion of the Hauraki Regiment.
In 1970, he was appointed Military Secretary in Headquarters Field Force Command where he remained until his retirement in June 1973.
Jeannie said she remembered her father as a quietly spoken man. "He was always gentle with us. Despite being a soldier he was a big softie with us kids."
He told his children only about the humorous moments of war until his final years when he felt he needed to get his story out.
Rick Thame, who spoke at Mr MacLeod's funeral on behalf of the Rotorua RSA and the Rotorua branch of the King's Empire Veterans, said he had been a proud member of both organisations.
Mr MacLeod is survived by his three children, five grandchildren and one great granddaughter