Local Labor members are mourning the death of Laurie Kelly, describing him as “a giant of the Illawarra Labor movement”.
Mr Kelly died on Wednesday, aged 88, having contracted pneumonia earlier this month.
Mr Kelly has the record for being the longest-serving Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of the NSW Parliament, having held the role from May 25, 1976 to April 26, 1988.
He was the Member for Corrimal for a record seven terms from 1968 until his retirement from Parliament in 1988.
Mr Kelly was a Life Member of the NSW Labor Party.
“Today we remember with great fondness Laurie Kelly’s public contribution to the Illawarra and his service to the NSW Parliament as its Speaker,” a Labor statement said.
Mr Kelly played a key role in the development of the University of Wollongong, serving as its Deputy Chancellor.
He was also Chairman of the Wollongong City Soccer Club and the Illawarra Disabled Persons Trust.
He was also president and Life Member of the Illawarra Branch Surf Life Saving Club and Patron of the Illawarra Rugby League Football Club.
His wife Rhonda died in February, aged 83.
Former Illawarra politician Colin Markham was campaign manager for Mr Kelly for a couple of elections.
Mr Markham said the couple had moved to Brisbane about four years ago, “because Laurie was deteriorating as far as dementia was concerned”.
“Laurie was such an activist within the community generally,” Mr Markham said.
“Him and Rhonda, we were just great friends as well as party activists.”
Mr Kelly’s father – Laurie Kelly Senior – also served in the NSW Parliament as the Member for Bulli from 1947 to 1955.