THE grandfather of Julian Assange, Dr Warren Alfred Hawkins, has died after a long illness.
The former principal of the Northern Rivers College of Advanced Education, now Southern Cross University, died on Tuesday. He was living in southern Victoria at the time.
Dr Hawkins was appointed Head of the School of Teacher Education at the college in the late 1970s and became principal several years later.
Assange and his mother, Christine, lived with his grandfather and grandmother Norma in Lismore from the mid-1970s to the early-1980s. Assange attended Goolmangar Primary School.
Dr Hawkins's friend and former colleague Adjunct Professor Keith Skamp remembered him as a man who was always up for a debate and often probed colleagues and friends to think more deeply about issues.
"The conversation was never dull when Warren was around and was usually rather spirited," Prof Skamp said.
"He was a very quick thinker and could engage with the sharpest minds.
"He cared for people's wellbeing and always took an interest in our families and wanted to know what we were all doing.
"He loved fishing and telling stories and thoroughly enjoyed socialising, both at work and in family contexts."
Prof Skamp said Dr Hawkins would be remembered as a leader who encouraged a sense of collegiality across the campus and helped guide the institution on its path to becoming a university.
During his retirement years he lived in North Queensland, Ballina, Laurieton and Southern Victoria.
Dr Hawkins was born on April 14, 1924 in Sydney and was said to be a strong supporter of Wikileaks.