Mr Yahya Mohammad Aljaru, 76, a leader in education and in the Muslim community, died yesterday morning.
Known as Cikgu Yahya (cikgu is Malay for teacher), he was the founding principal of Tampines Junior College (TPJC) from 1986 to 1992.
He also served in various roles at the Ministry of Education, including as deputy director and chairman of the Compulsory Education Board.
Ms Pamela Yoong, principal of TPJC, told The Straits Times yesterday that Mr Yahya's death was "very sudden, though we had been receiving news that he was unwell, and we were still hopeful that he would be able to make it for the various homecoming events we have planned".
In fact, he would have been the special guest for a homecoming event on Saturday that was planned by students from the school's first decade, 1986 to 1996, she said.
Mr Yahya also sat on the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) Council from 2004 to 2007.
In a statement yesterday, Muis said it was saddened by his death.
"The community has lost a strong leader who sought tirelessly to uplift the community. His significant contributions... not only created a deep impact on the lives of Singaporean Muslims but also serve as an example for our community leaders of today," it said.
From 1995 to 2003, Mr Yahya was the president of the Muslimin Trust Fund Association, which serves the underprivileged in the Muslim community.
For his life's contributions, Mr Yahya was conferred the Jasa Bakti Award by Muis in 2003 and the Public Service Star Award this year.
Mr Yahya was well-loved by college teachers and the alumni.
Mr Harneis Hadir, who attended TPJC from 1987 to 1988, said his principal was not one to stay in his office. "He cared enough for his students to hang around the canteen during recess and lunch periods to talk to us," said the 47-year-old general manager of a museum.
Miss Lucilla Teoh, 55, who taught at TPJC from 1986 to 1994, said: "He was fatherly in every sense of the word. If a student needed help, he would find ways to assist. One student was handicapped and Mr Yahya asked my father, who drove me to school, to give him a lift.
"Mr Yahya's passion was TPJC."