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Hospitalized this past week for undisclosed “medical care,” Sheila Oliver died at the age of 71.
Her family has released a statement, saying, “It is with incredible sadness and a heavy heart that we announce the passing of the Honorable Sheila Y. Oliver, Lieutenant Governor of the State of New Jersey. She was not only a distinguished public servant but also our cherished daughter, sister, aunt, friend, and hero.”
Oliver was in service of her second term in her role, having won the re-election along with Murphy in 2021. She was overseeing the Department of Community Affairs and made efforts to make housing and local government services affordable for the public.
Oliver served in the state General Assembly previously and became the first Black woman to become the Assembly Speaker in American history in 2010.
Her family said to the press, “Sheila Y. Oliver leaves behind a legacy of dedication, service, and inspiration, we will remember her commitment to the people of New Jersey and her tireless efforts to uplift the community.”
Murphy paid tribute to Oliver on Tuesday with a social media post. He said that he was “incredibly saddened to learn of the passing” of a “dear friend, colleague, and partner in government.”
LeRoy Jones Jr., chair of the Democratic State Committee, has said in a statement that Oliver was an “exemplary role model for Black women and girls throughout our state.” He continued, “Sheila Oliver was a trailblazer and a true icon for representation, diversity and progress. As our state’s first Black woman to serve as Assembly Speaker and as Lt. Governor, Sheila leaves behind a legacy of breaking barriers that will never be forgotten.”
Murphy has 45 days to elect a successor to Oliver as the lieutenant governor.