New Jersey is mourning the loss of Lieutenant Governor Sheila Oliver, a distinguished politician who etched her name in history as the first Black woman to hold a statewide-elected office in the Garden State. At the age of 71, she passed away, leaving behind a legacy of dedication, service, and inspiration that touched the lives of many.
The Oliver family shared their grief in a heartfelt statement, remembering her not only as an accomplished public servant but also as a cherished daughter, sister, aunt, friend, and hero. The cause of her passing has not been immediately disclosed.
As recently as Monday, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy’s office had announced that Oliver was receiving medical care and, consequently, was unable to serve as acting governor while the governor was on vacation. New Jersey State Senate President Nicholas Scutari assumed the duties of acting governor in her absence.
A stalwart in the Democratic Party, Sheila Oliver had been serving as New Jersey’s lieutenant governor since January 2018. Her appointment marked a significant milestone in the state’s history as she became the first woman of color to hold a statewide elected office. Oliver’s trailblazing journey extended further, as she became the first Black woman to serve as the Speaker of the state’s general assembly, a role she attained after being elected in 2003.
Do you know that the Medical Examiner’s Office in New York officially established the cause of deἀth of respected actor Treat Williams, leaving the entertainment industry in shock and mourning? According to a press release, the actor dἰed of “severe trauma and blood loss” as a consequence of a June motorcycle accident in Vermont:
In her own words, Oliver reflected on her unexpected entry into politics, recalling how she initially ran as a candidate on a friend’s ticket. To her surprise, she won the election and thus began her illustrious career as a state legislator. Her passion for public service transcended boundaries, leading her to take an active interest in various aspects of the state legislature. This dedication eventually led her to assume the prestigious position of the Speaker of the New Jersey General Assembly in 2010.
Oliver’s educational journey was equally impressive. She attended Lincoln University for her undergraduate degree and earned a Master of Science Degree in Community Organization, Planning, and Administration from Columbia University.
Governor Phil Murphy expressed profound sadness at the news of Oliver’s passing, emphasizing her trailblazing achievements and how she was already a “trailblazer in every sense of the word” when he chose her as his running mate in 2017. Her decades of dedicated public service made her the perfect partner for leading the State of New Jersey, a decision that Murphy hailed as the best he ever made.
The state of New Jersey, along with Oliver’s family, friends, and colleagues, mourns the loss of a true pioneer and a remarkable leader. As the cause of her deἀth remains undisclosed, her legacy of breaking barriers and uplifting communities will forever be celebrated and cherished.