REG Cross quit his post as Huddersfield University's first chancellor on a matter of principle.
But that was typical of the man, who died peacefully in his sleep at his Batley home on April 10, aged 84.
The Dunkirk veteran, lifetime trade unionist and former ICI fitter resigned from the university 10 years ago after a 20-year involvement.
He had been on the board of governors since 1974, before becoming chairman in 1986. He quit as chairman in 1994.
He said he no longer had any influence on the ruling governing council and said his decision was "a matter of conscience".
He was born in Tiverton, Devon, and lived in Huddersfield after the Second World War, as he met his wife, Joan, while stationed in Yorkshire.
He went on to work at LB Hollidays and ICI, where he became heavily involved in the AEU engineering union.
It was through his union activities that he was invited to the then Huddersfield Polytechnic to talk in debates about unions and join its council.
He was awarded the OBE for services to the university.
His daughter, Jean, said: "He was a great believer in education and equal opportunities. He was a very just man and could relate to the man in the street as easily as he could an MP."
He maintained his love of the railways, having a railway set himself, and embraced everything in life from traditional jazz to his love of the East Coast.
Mr Cross was married to the late Joan and was the father of six children. He leaves six grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.