With his soft voice instantly recognisable on the airwaves, Sir Terry was a welcome presence in millions of homes up and down the country.
But friends and residents in Taplow, where he and his wife lived for more than 40 years, said the broadcaster was a very private person who saw the small Buckinghamshire village as his "sanctuary".
Despite keeping his privacy, Sir Terry still involved himself in Taplow community life, going to Christmas carols on the green, becoming patron of a local charity and even commentating on a charity celebrity cricket match.
Nigel Smales, author of a history of the village, Taplow Moments - for which Sir Terry wrote the foreword - said: "This was a sanctuary to him and Helen in that he was a big, famous person but he came here to be private, and everybody respected that.
"While he had some very good friends and some slightly less well-known people like me, he was always very friendly, very convivial, always willing to talk and in fact just what you'd expect to see on television.
"He never flaunted his fame, he was just a really nice person, and we're all very sad to hear of his passing."
Sir Terry and his wife Helen first came to the village in 1969, Mr Smales said, staying with friends Kits Browning - the son of Daphne du Maurier - and his wife Olive for a few weeks before moving there permanently in 1975.
While he was never a regular feature of village life, Sir Terry became patron of the Thames Valley Adventure Playground in Taplow, a centre for disabled children and adults, and his daughter Katherine got married in the local church in 2003.
Mr Smales also recalled Sir Terry got involved in three charity cricket matches with Taplow Cricket Club, bringing along celebrity friends such as Tony Blackburn and other Radio 2 DJs and the cricketer Denis Compton while commentating on one of the matches from a nearby caravan.
He said: "The cricket commentary was hilarious in the sense that he was just chatting away as though talking to a friend, but we could all listen to him.
"I have to admit I was watching the cricket and enjoying my pint, chatting to my mates, and it was just fun - 'Hey, isn't that Tel on the broadcast?'
"He was great. He was just an absolutely normal guy who had made this thing happen because he knew so many people and they all loved him."
In the village pub, the Oak And Saw, residents swapped memories of Sir Terry over a pint.
While most did not know him personally, they remembered seeing him being picked up for work in a Rolls Royce - and occasionally a helicopter, which landed in the grounds of his home.
Landlord Ian Burne said: "It was nice to know that somebody who was loved so much by the British public lived just around the corner.
"Most recently we saw him on the village green just across from the pub here where we have carols at Christmas.
"Sir Terry and his wife came down for that, so that was very nice to see him then. That was only a month or six weeks ago."
Villagers were shocked at his death, Mr Burne said, as they did not realise he had been unwell.
He said: "Everybody I've spoken to is surprised because nobody knew that he was that ill.
"You just didn't expect this, really, and I feel very sorry for the family."
Bouquets of flowers were left outside Sir Terry's home by residents who wanted to pay their respects.
Among those leaving tribute was Mark Jones, who runs the Wall Of Sound record label and founded the Shoom club night.
He said: "He was just one of those legends of television and radio that you grew up with.
"We have been neighbours but I never met him, so I wanted to come and lay some flowers here.
"It feels very strange today. He has always had that spirit of friendship."