Brian Schaab's former detective colleague Keith Price said he had been stunned by news that his inspirational fellow retired officer had died last Wednesday after battling cancer.
"It is just so bloody sad," Mr Price, now a Napier City Councillor who worked in the Napier CIB alongside "Schaaby" for the 20 years he served in the city before retiring about 12 years ago.
"I just knew him from Day One and he was a great police officer and a great guy," Mr Price said.
Both became involved in the hunt for the killer of Napier schoolgirl Teresa Cormack in 1998 when the inquiry was boosted in the wake of advances in DNA blood and hair analysis techniques.
Mr Price said Mr Schaab was determined to get a result in the murder of the 6-year-old on June 19, 1987.
"He was a man of his word and real straight-shooter and he hung in with that inquiry and he got the result."
Mr Schaab and Mr Price went to a Naenae property on February 26, 2002, and arrested Jules Mikus.
The advances in DNA had collared him.
Mr Schaab's direct, honest approach to everything he took on was witnessed by this writer.
He had assured me that when the day came that Teresa's killer was caught he would make sure I was the first member of the media to hear about it because we'd always got on well.
Which is what transpired after he called late on the night before the arrest and told me "we're going to be knocking on a door first thing tomorrow. We'll ring you".
And he did.
"We've got him," was his opening line and I was able to break the story we had all for so long hoped for.
"That was Schaaby. Real man of his word," Mr Price said. "He was one of the great warhorses. So when I got the message on the day he died it was a hell of a shock.
"I knew he'd been a bit crook but like a lot of the guys you'd still see him around from time to time. It is so bloody sad."
Teresa Cormack's mother, Kelly Pigott, agreed with Mr Price and said they had lost a genuine and caring man.
"He was so supportive through the whole case and always kept us in the loop with what was going on. He was a hero in our eyes and a rock to our family," Ms Pigott said.
Knowing Mr Schaab was in charge of the case made the family feel safe and gave them the hope they needed to get through it all.
"He was determined and never gave up after all those years, which gave us the result we hoped for. Simply said, he was just a very good man," Ms Pigott said.
Eastern District Command Centre Senior Sergeant Dan Foley said Mr Schaab, who served 44 years with the police, 27 of them in Napier, was here when he started and said his experience and approachability was exceptional.
Mr Foley said Mr Schaab's smile and humour was well known, and he had a hobby of collecting jokes, to the stage where he had so many he was approached by a publishing company and asked if he would like to include them in a book.
It was duly published.
Mr Schaab was direct, organised and exceptionally experienced in his detective roles as well as years of service with the Armed Offenders Squad, Mr Foley said.
"He gave his best years to the police and everyone I came across spoke so well of him. It is a real sad loss."
Both Mr Price and Mr Foley agreed there would be some "really good war stories" told at the celebration of his life being held at the Napier Sailing Club tomorrow at 11am.