Hans Singh, 87, settled in Glasgow in 1948 after emigrating from Armritsar in India.
His family said he was secretary of the first temple in South Portland Street and campaigned tirelessly for rights, including the battle to allow Sikhs to wear a turban instead of a helmet when riding a motorcycle.
In a statement, his son, Ranbir, said: "Hans Singh was very proud to have served his community and the Gurdwara [temple], not an arrogant pride but that akin to a sense of an achieved duty. When he was able, he would walk to the Gurdwara every week with my mother.
"We have lost a much-loved man, a man my family and I can hold our head up high to, for I know that he truly served us, not with riches and boastfulness, but with a quiet humility, guiding us away from greed and dishonesty and teaching us to recognise the differences between what is right and what is wrong, what is fair and what is unfair."
In 1962, Mr Singh was elected to represent Glasgow Sikhs to meet India's first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru.
He is survived by his wife Parsin Kaur and three of their four children. He died peacefully on Christmas Day, his family said.