Paul Ingram held the reins from 1973 until 199 and steered the Church Road school through its transition from a grammar with a sixth form to an 11-16 comprehensive.
Paul, who was married to Joan, succeeded Fred Bleasdale who left Balshaw’s to become the founding principal of Runshaw College.
Current headteacher Steven Haycocks described Mr Ingram, who never lost touch with the school, as a charismatic man who maintained the ethos of excellence at the school in its new context.
After retiring he supported events and continued to visit his successor Jo Venn and Steven. He continued to contribute to the lives of young people in his role as a member of the Rotary Club of Great Britain.
Mr Haycocks added: “It was with great sorrow that we received the news of Paul’s death.
"Paul has always returned to Balshaw’s to support events and to keep in touch with educational leadership and the life of the school.
“He always had some sage words of wisdom to impart and I will miss his visits very much.”
Former head Jo Venn, added: “It was a privilege to take over Balshaw’s in January 1995 as Paul had made the school the success it was.
“From when I first met him I knew that I could rely on him for his wisdom and understanding. I was indebted to him for so much.”
Of the many tributes left on the school’s Twitter feed, former students remember him as a great headteacher who was a gentleman who was always fair and one former student simply says: “He taught me respect.”