Well-known Whanganui woman Judith Timpany has suffered a brain haemorrhage and died.

She was found at her Whanganui house on Wednesday, her whangai daughter and family spokeswoman Sarah Helm said. An autopsy was undertaken in Wellington on Thursday.

Ms Timpany, 63, had enjoyed spending time with family over Christmas.

She was found sitting down with a cup of tea and her knitting, a pastime Ms Helm said she loved. As a healthy, fit woman, her death was completely unexpected, and a huge shock to her two daughters, Fiona Mason and Claire Timpany, and her whangai daughters, Ms Helm and Sari Hollekim.

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Ms Timpany was a Justice of the Peace, lectured at Wanganui Regional Community Polytechnic, and was a district councillor for three years.

She also had a masters degree in community development, and worked for at least 20 years in the charitable sector.

She was the first chairwoman of what's since been named the Whanganui Community Foundation, and was later its chief executive.

Well-known nationally in philanthropic circles, she was a Charity Commissioner.

Ms Timpany was also a member of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), of a Rotary group, of Sustainable Whanganui, of weaving and kapa haka groups and had been on the board of Wanganui High School.

"She will be a huge loss to a lot of people - she touched a lot of people's lives," Ms Helm said.

Ms Timpany will be lying in The Quiet Room at the Quaker Settlement in Virginia Rd from today. Her funeral service is at her house, 34 Campbell St, at 1.30pm on January 13.