THE Natimuk and Horsham communities are mourning the loss of former mayor Heather Phillips, who died from cancer on Monday night.
Ms Phillips served on Horsham Rural City Council from 2012 to 2016, and became mayor in 2015.
Horsham Mayor Mark Radford described Ms Phillips as an enthusiastic and passionate councillor.
"Heather was a very good councillor, in that she always did the reading, asked questions and rattled the cage, which was what you want in a councillor," he said.
"She had a great passion for anything that related to the environment, especially mining issues.
"The state government is now reviewing the Local Governmental Act and is looking at introducing a tax for mining companies for using farm land - Heather was a driver of that."
Ms Phillips often cared for injured wildlife in her spare time.
"She would often come to meetings with a little kangaroo in her bag that she was bottle-feeding," Cr Radford said.
"She had a passion for helping wildlife."
Cr Radford said he studied a Diploma of Local Government with Ms Phillips.
"We would spend quite a few hours in the car together when we travelled for training, and we occasionally agreed on things, but most often not," he said.
"That is what makes a good councillor - you don't have to agree.
"She had an impact in her term as mayor and she was a very enthusiastic mayor.
"We were all very surprised when she wasn't re-elected to council in 2016."
Ms Phillips was instrumental in the Natimuk community and her hobbies included pottery and croquet.
"She was a character, and a very clever woman," Cr Radford said.
"She had great pottery skills and had an amazing collection of pots she had made over the years."
Ms Phillips started playing croquet for Kalimna Park Croquet Club when she was mayor.
"She was invited to open the season and she decided to start playing," Cr Radford said.
"She won a championship only a few weeks ago."
Ms Phillips was also a former rock-climber and was very supportive of Natimuk's climbing community.
"She was a great contributor to the community in Natimuk," Cr Radford said.
"All communities rely largely on the enthusiasm of volunteers and she brought a very good understanding of the climbing community to the town and council.
"She was a highly respected person."
Funeral details are yet to be advised.