Jim Carr, who was also a former town clerk at the authority, died on Sunday, December 16, having been ill for a number of months.
Current interim chief executive, Adrian Phillips, said: “I had the privilege of working with Jim for a great many years and always held him in the very highest esteem.
"Jim led from the front and by example. He was passionate about both delivering great services for the people of Preston and seeking growth and prosperity for the city.
"As a chief executive he embraced technology to improve services and worked tirelessly for Preston as the heart of Lancashire. He really believed in how great a city Preston could become for the benefit of all its residents.
“Jim was very well respected both within Preston and across Lancashire, we in this city and across our county have lost a great public servant and friend; however the fruits of his hard work for this city will benefit us all for many years to come.
"My thoughts are with his wife, Pauline and their family during this very sad time.”
Jim was chief executive at Preston City Council from March 1996 until his retirement in November 2009.
He leaves his wife of 42 years, Pauline and two sons, Matthew and Paul.
Coun Trevor Hart, mayor of Preston, said: “This is very sad news. Jim was a great advocate for Preston and will be missed by councillors and council employees alike.
"What he achieved for Preston is evident – securing city status was the beginning of the regeneration we have seen over a number of years, and still continues today.
“He was very hard working and will be greatly missed. My thoughts are with his family at this sad time.”
Born in Blackburn and having lived there all his life, Jim was a Blackburn Rovers fan and with his wife keen walkers and ballroom dancers.
A highly committed public servant to the people of Lancashire, Jim worked in local government for 41 years, serving at both Blackburn Council and the Commission for New Towns before Preston.
He came to the then Preston Borough Council in October 1982 as assistant borough treasurer. He was promoted to the post of director of Finance in September 1992.
Jim became temporary town clerk and chief executive in March 1996 securing the permanent appointment in March 1997.
He led Preston’s successful bid for city status in 2002 to become the Golden Jubilee City and with extensive and enthusiastic preparation work laid the foundation for the 2012 Guild, among his many achievements.