Douglas Bruce's Renault Clio struck a Mercedes Sprinter on the B9105 between Turriff and Fintry in Aberdeenshire on Thursday morning.
His family say his death left a huge hole in their lives.
The accident came after two people were killed in another collision on the A980 Torphins to Banchory road at around 7.15pm on Wednesday.
They were named as Mark Lee, 41, of Drumoak and Valerie Cruickshank, 43, of Banchory. The accident involved the LandRover Freelander in which they were travelling and a silver VW Transporter.
A woman was cut free by firefighters from the second vehicle and treated in hospital for non-life- threatening injuries.
Mr Bruce, who had two grown-up grandchildren, is survived by his wife Sheila and his two children Tracey James and Graham Bruce who live in Plymouth and Bahrain respectively.
Sheila Bruce said Mr Bruce was originally from Dyce and had joined the Navy from school. They settled in Plymouth, but moved to Turriff 23 years ago.
Mrs Bruce said: "Douglas was a well-known and liked member of the community. He was involved with the British Legion and had been chairman of the Turriff Accordion and Fiddle club which he absolutely loved.
"He was a very popular chap and liked entertaining. He enjoyed being with his family and friends and was the heart and soul of any party.
"He was a wonderful husband, very much a family man and adored his grandchildren. He lived life to the full. This has left a huge hole in our lives."
Police said their investigations into the crash were at an early stage and the driver of the Mercedes van was unhurt.
l Two men, aged 32 and 55, have been reported to the procurator fiscal after a three-car collision on the Clydeside Expressway in Glasgow on Thursday left six people in hospital.