He was a wonderful man with a vision for the region.
President of Greater Port Macquarie Tourism Janette Hyde says Father Leo Donnelly was "just exceptional."
Father Donnelly passed away on Wednesday January 23.
"We were very fortunate to have such a wonderful personality in our community," she said.
"Father D just epitomises this community."
But it was his intervention in the future of Tuffins Lane that Mrs Hyde says Father Donnelly's leadership shone through.
"When we came to the point where we had an issue with Tuffins Lane and it looked like it could be lost to community ownership, he certainly grabbed the ball and ran with it," she said.
"He understood the opportunity for sport, particularly junior sport.
"But his overall vision, his understanding of what sporting events at the stadium and on Tuffins Lane meant to the city, were there for all to see.
"He preserved a very important part of our infrastructure by getting the Catholic Church involved.
"I will never forget him for that intervention on that issue."
Mrs Hyde said the entire Tuffins Lane sporting precinct adds much to the local economy of the Port Macquarie-Hastings.
Port Macquarie Touch Football president Wayne Prince said not only had Father Donnelly saved the sporting precinct, but he had also shown vital leadership for the entire town.
"We wouldn't be playing touch football and many other sports without him," he said.
"We would have lost the State Cups and had a massive hole in the Port Macquarie economy... he took it upon himself and did the deal."
Mr Prince said Father Donnelly had spent his whole life looking after members of the community and his funeral would be one of the biggest Port Macquarie has ever seen.
"He was one of the greatest men I have ever met," he said.