War veteran Eric Brady, victim of a brutal bashing in the Papatoetoe RSA car park two years ago, has died in Auckland, aged 87.

A photograph in the Herald in February 2009 of Mr Brady's bruised and battered face under a headline "Who could do this?" sparked outrage over the attack and members of the public helped the police to find and arrest his teenage assailant within three days.

Maurangi Pere, now 20, was sentenced to eight years and 10 months in prison with a minimum non-parole term of four years for the assault and other crimes committed during a month-long spree, including holding a knife to the stomach of a South Auckland healthcare worker.

Mr Brady, who fought back as Pere pounded him while trying to steal his car but was ultimately flung out of the vehicle, suffered extensive facial injuries including broken jaw bones and had to have titanium plates inserted in his chin.

But his daughter, Joanne O'Rourke, said yesterday that his death on Sunday followed a brief illness unrelated to his injuries.

Despite the trauma of the attack, Mrs O'Rourke said, the World War II navigator and bomb-aimer on RAF 57 Squadron Lancasters retained an adventurous spirit. He avidly used his SuperGold Card to enjoy free public transport all over Auckland until late last year.

"He used his card quite a bit, catching the ferry to Waiheke and having tiki tours around Auckland - he was a bit of a go-getter," she said of her father, a widower who was a life member of the Papatoetoe RSA and member of the New Zealand Bomber Command Association.

She had also taken him on holiday last year to the Gold Coast, where he was keen on rides at the Movie World and Dreamworld theme parks.

"He wasn't an adrenaline junkie, the extreme things, but he was an adventurer."

Mrs O'Rourke was reluctant to dwell on the bashing, which her father preferred not to talk about, except to despair that the "thug" responsible for it was likely to emerge from prison as a bigger criminal than when he went in.

Longtime friend Frank Green, who regularly shared a beer with Mr Brady at both the RSA and the Papatoetoe RSA Bowling Club, described him as a positive and strong man.

"But that beating he got, that did take a toll on him - it knocked him around a lot.

"He's a very close friend - I'll miss him dearly."

Mr Brady is survived by two children, five grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

A service will be held for him at 11am tomorrow at the Manukau Memorial Gardens Crematorium.