FAMILY and friends have paid tribute to Marlow stalwart Ron Waters, calling him "a devoted family man" who was instrumental in shaping the town as it stands today.

Mr Waters, Chairman of The Marlow Society for 11 years until recently, died after an illness, on December 10.

His family and friends have now compiled and released a heartfelt tribute to him.

In a statement, they wrote: "The death of Ronald 'Ron' Waters in December has deprived Marlow of one of its most loyal residents. Ron was instrumental in leading change, preserving our heritage, providing an objective analysis of problems and providing solutions.

"Whilst devoting much time to the town Ron always found time to enjoy the company of his many friends. He and Mary, who was always at his side, were active and popular members of the Marlow Folk Dance Club and the Budavar Society. A happy and convivial person, Ron was always a devoted family man whose pride in his daughters and grandchildren shone through. "This very gentle gentleman is greatly missed by all who knew him."

He was well known for his role in dealing with planning and conservation matters at The Marlow Society.

Society spokesman Harriet Wilson said: "Ron deployed his experience and personality to ensure that Marlow retained its historic character whilst evolving as a vibrant town. His skills channelled The Marlow Society’s desire to preserve this town and made it the effective voice it now is, much respected by the local planning bodies and councils.

"He worked closely with the district and town councils where his contribution was always valued. We all owe him a great debt of gratitude for quietly achieving so much. The appearance and vigour of the town today is a living testament to his works."

Among the many roles held by Mr Waters was Elder of the United Reformed Church in Oxford Road. He oversaw various redevelopments from the 1980s until it was fully revitalised in 2003.

A much used social location for the community, he is said to have been proud of how the church developed.

Mr Waters did not originally come from Marlow. He was born in Shoreditch within hearing distance of Bow bells. His family moved to the fresher, healthier air of Burnt Oak after he survived diphtheria when he was three. He grew up in Tewksbury Gardens, attended Haberdashers Askes where he played cricket and rugby and made life-long friends. After leaving school he did his national service and it was while he was stationed at Woolwich that the young Lieutenant Waters met Mary Jean Jenkin - known to many as Jinks - on the platform of Woolwich Station. Mary waited whilst Mr Waters served as a gunner in Egypt and they married on his return.

Despite loving the army and being a promising young officer, Ron preferred to return to civilian with Mary and they later had two daughters Lesley and Carolyn. In 1962 he became a civil servant working for London Transport and in 1968 moved to the Covent Garden Market Authority. Mr Waters was responsible for relocating Covent Garden Market from its historic West End site to Nine Elms and spent many evening hours poring over plans and maps as he supervised the move. After Covent Garden he joined the planning department in South Bucks District Council, gaining skills and knowledge later used for his work with The Marlow Society.