Sixty-five-year-old Rupert Taylor had worked in newspapers across the county for five decades and also published scores of books on Sussex villages.
The father of three died on Sunday (May 2) after being found unwell at his home near Uckfield.
He retired from Sussex Newspapers two years ago and had been spending his retirement writing a book.
Tributes have flooded in from former colleagues who worked with Rupert since his first job on the Sussex Express newspaper, which he joined as a 17-year-old cub reporter in the early 1970s.
Fellow journalist and lifelong friend Mick Plumb said Rupert was “a lovely, lovely man who always put others first, one of the most talented local newspaper reporters of his day who went on to edit a number of Sussex titles as well as enjoying a stint on the Daily Telegraph”.
Rupert’s younger sister Jennifer King, who lives in France, described her brother as a “real Sussex man”.
Born in Lewes in October 1955, Rupert and his sister moved to Nigeria as their parents were colonial civil servants before moving back to Sussex and growing up in Burwash, Kingston and Plumpton.
Rupert attended Lewes County Grammar School for Boys and played as a scrum half in the school’s rugby team.
It was where he first met fellow reporter Nigel Jarrett and after leaving school, the two joined the Sussex Express.
Nigel said, “The grammar school motto was Dare nec computare – to give and not to count the cost. Perfect for Rupert who was one of the most generous people with his time and friendship I ever had the privilege to know.”
Rupert worked in several district offices of the Lewes based publication including Seaford, Hailsham, Uckfield and Crowborough.
He also had stints on the Worthing Herald and Littlehampton Gazette and worked in the sports department as well as on general news reporting.
He married his wife Joanne in 1980 and the couple had two daughters Daisy and Chloe.
He went to work at the Eastbourne Herald and in 1991 married his second wife and fellow journalist Charlotte with whom he had a daughter Matilda.
It was while he was working as a sub on the Daily Telegraph in London that Charlotte became ill and he moved back to work in Sussex ahead of her untimely death in 2010.
After the Sussex Express closed its Lewes office, Rupert returned to the Eastbourne Herald to work and later continued as chief reporter on the Express until his retirement.
He was an avid Brighton & Hove Albion fan and Mick Plumb recalls his passion for the Seagulls.
He said, “An undoubted highlight would have been when Rupert took the company car and drove us all the way to Newcastle and back in a day in May 1979, to see Brighton clinch promotion to Division One – now the Premiership – by beating Newcastle 3-1.
“Rupert was also a big music fan - T Rex, Don McLean and Roxy Music were favourites of his.
“He penned many books on Sussex and one of his published books was Sussex Murder Casebook, published in 1994. He also wrote a book of Sussex walks and helped finish a book Worthing at War, when he worked with me at the Worthing Herald, which had been part-written by Colin Clark, entertainments editor at the Herald, who was one of the five passengers who died in the Purley train disaster in 1989.
“He was a smashing guy, extremely talented and I can’t believe I am never going to see and talk to him again.”
Retired Sussex journalist Peter Austin also paid tribute to Rupert and described him as “an excellent writer and a very good reporter who was old school”.
“He was a really lovely bloke too,” said Peter.
Former Sussex Express journalist John Eccles described Rupert as a first class reporter.
He said, “He was a great journalist and knew how to get the most out of a story and get people talking.
“He had a great sense of humour and wonderful way of looking at the world. Very offbeat and light-hearted. He was a little bit barmy, a wonderful colleague, a very good friend and a great personality. I shall miss him.”
Former journalist Phil Dennett, who also worked with Rupert, said, “I was saddened to hear of the sudden and unexpected death of Rupert Taylor.
“As well as working on other Sussex papers, Rupert also had a brief spell on the Mid Sussex Times at Haywards Heath, where his charming and talented wife Charlotte had also worked before her early death.
“Rupert was a model for any young reporter willing to learn from him, producing concise, accurate and easily-read copy without fuss.
“More than that he was a true gentleman, with a great and at times quirky sense of humour. Working with him was a pleasure, and it is such a shame that he enjoyed only two years of retirement before passing away.
“My thoughts are with his family. Rest in Peace Rupert.”