Sue Johnson, deputy chief executive of Wigan MBC, has died at the age of 51.
Ms Johnson died on Wednesday evening whilst staying with friends.
Council leader Lord Peter Smith (Lab) led the tributes to Ms Johnson.
“Sue was a first-rate leader of people,” said Lord Smith. “Honest, open, forthright yet with a keen wit and a warm sense of humour. She was in every way a people-person and genuinely cared not only for the people who worked for her but for the people of the borough that she served.
“Whilst the news of her loss is still sinking in, Sue will be sorely missed. Our thoughts at this time are with her husband, son and family.”
Wigan’s chief executive, Joyce Redfearn, said: “Not only has our borough lost a great asset but many of us are mourning the loss of a good friend. It is particularly tragic that this has happened at this time of year and our thoughts and feelings are with Sue’s family. It is fair to say that the Wigan Council will be a poorer place for Sue’s passing. We will all miss her.”
Ms Johnson joined Wigan in 2007 from Knowsley, where she was Director of Programmes and Transformation. An accountant with more than 20 years experience, she had worked in a variety of senior posts across the public sector in both local government and the NHS.
During her time at Wigan, she was responsible for managing the council’s wide-ranging improvement programme and she played a key role in Wigan’s drive towards transforming local public services.
Ms Johnson lived in Wrexham and leaves husband Ken and son Matthew.