Don Robson, the chairman who oversaw Durham's elevation to first-class status and building of the Riverside Test ground, has died aged 82.
Robson, whose name adorns the pavilion at Chester-le-Street, was the driving force behind the move from Minor Counties to the Championship in 1992.
Since then the county have won three titles and limited-overs silverware as well as hosting international cricket.
"Don played an integral role," the club said in a statement.
"He campaigned long and hard to turn the dream of a first-class venue at Chester-le-Street into a reality."
In addition to his work for the cricket club, Robson was also a former leader of Durham County Council.
Councillor Simon Henig said: "'Don was a hugely respected figure across County Durham and the North East.
"Under Don's leadership, the council prioritised economic development and growth and he helped the county attract hundreds of millions in grant funding and a series of major investment projects."