Thelma McCarthy will be awarded Life Membership of the Australian Labor Party at the NSW Labor Conference in July.
A recommendation for her award was unanimously passed at a recent meeting of Labor's Armidale branch.
President of the Armidale Branch (1972-1985) Gus Platter said there was not a more appropriate nomination than Thelma's.
"Her anticipation, taming and inspiring the doubters, who previously would never have considered voting Labor, was legendary," he said.
"Thelma has been the unwavering, active and symbolic face of Labor in Armidale and the New England since, at least the 1970s.
"When [her husband] Bill McCarthy won three terms for Labor, in what was always regarded as a Country/National Party fiefdom, Thelma was an essential part of what was always a team."
NSW Labor Leader Jodi McKay said after 40 strong years of dedicated service to the Labor Party, Thelma McCarthy was more than deserving of life membership.
"As a pioneer for women's rights and a fierce advocate for her community, Thelma has devoted much of her life to the Labor party and what it stands for, as did her late husband Bill," she said.
"She is a local Labor legend and as a Party we are forever grateful for her contribution."
William "Bill" John Patrick McCarthy was the Labor Member for the seat of Armidale from 1978 to 1981, and then Northern Tablelands from 1981 to 1987.
He died prematurely aged 64 in 1987 while still in office. Thelma took up the fight in the subsequent by-election, but was defeated by the National Party.
Armidale branch president and candidate for Northern Tablelands Debra O'Brien said life membership was significant.
"It's a really huge honour in the Labor Party," she said.
"The first thing you notice is Thelma's boundless energy. I have invited her to a number of events, she always turns up.
"You call her up to give a speech and it doesn't matter whether you give her notice or not, she always comes up and give the most incredible, inspiring, articulate speeches."
Ms O'Brien said Thelma had terrific memories of when Labor held the seat.
"She tells fantastic stories about how that happened and the work they put into it and the things they achieved," she said.
"And also the really funny sorts of stories about fighting for Labor in a Nationals stronghold.
"To us, Thelma is like this shining light. She's a reminder that it can be done, a reminder never to give up."
NSW Labor Senator Tim Ayres was pleased to have sponsored Thelma's nomination.
"She has been a leader and inspiration to so many country Labor members and candidates," he said.
"Life Membership is the highest honour in the Australian Labor Party; it represents a lifetime of commitment to our party and its values.
"For half a century, Thelma has been the face of Labor in Armidale. She has spent decades advocating for change for regional communities and a better life for country people."
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