New Jersey was plunged into mourning Tuesday as the news of the untimely death of Lt. Gov. Sheila Y. Oliver shook the state.
The 71-year-old died just one day after being rushed to the hospital due to an undisclosed medical issue.
In a heartbreaking statement, the Oliver family expressed their profound sorrow.
“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,” the family wrote. “She was not only a distinguished public servant but also our cherished daughter, sister, aunt, friend, and hero.”
Oliver had been acting governor in the absence of Gov. Phil Murphy, who was on vacation.
The mantle of acting governor was passed on to Democratic Senate President Nicholas Scutari when Oliver’s health suddenly worsened.
Speaking about Oliver, Gov. Murphy remembered her as a true trailblazer.
“When I selected her to be my running mate in 2017, Lt. Gov. Oliver was already a trailblazer in every sense of the word. She had already made history as the first Black woman to serve as Speaker of the General Assembly, and just the second Black woman in the nation’s history to lead a house of a state legislature,” Murphy stated.
“I knew then that her decades of public service made her the ideal partner for me to lead the State of New Jersey. It was the best decision I ever made.”