(NewsReady.com) – Sheila Oliver spent her adult life serving people in the public and private sectors. She was the first black woman to serve as Assembly speaker of New Jersey throughout her nearly two decades in office. Most recently, she filled the position of lieutenant governor. Sadly, her career and life recently came to an abrupt end.
On August 1, Oliver’s family issued a statement announcing she’d passed away. Her loved ones said the 71-year-old left “behind a legacy of dedication, service, and inspiration.” They said they would remember how she worked tirelessly to uplift her community and serve the people of New Jersey.
The day before Oliver died, Governor Phil Murphy (D) said she was experiencing a health issue that prevented her from serving as acting governor while he was on vacation in Italy. Mahen Gunaratna, a spokesperson for the governor, would only say the lieutenant governor was in the hospital receiving “medical care.” Senate President Nick Scutari (D) took over the role of acting governor instead.
The senator issued a statement about her death on Tuesday, saying it was a “heartbreaking loss” and applauding Oliver’s work. He called her a “trailblazer who broke through glass ceilings” when she became the first black woman to serve as speaker and lieutenant governor.
Murphy also issued a statement saying he and his family were very sad about Oliver’s passing. He asked the country to pray for her loved ones.
Tammy and I, and our children, are incredibly saddened to learn of the passing of our dear friend, colleague, and partner in government, @LtGovOliver.
We ask that you all keep the Oliver family and all those who loved her in your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time. pic.twitter.com/ty6drz7DgY
— Governor Phil Murphy (@GovMurphy) August 1, 2023
Oliver was reportedly suffering from long-term health problems that kept her out of the public eye in recent months. However, she was still performing her job duties and, in fact, did serve as acting governor while Murphy was on vacation until the day before she died, truly serving the people of New Jersey right up until the end.
The late lieutenant governor was elected to the state Assembly in 2003. In 2010, she began serving as its speaker and remained in the position until 2018. That’s when she was elected to serve as the second lieutenant governor in history. She is survived by her loving family.
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