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New Jersey Lt. Governor Sheila Oliver has died, her family announced on Tuesday.
Officials said on Monday that Oliver, a 71-year-old Democrat, had been taken to Cooperman Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston to receive medical care for an unspecified health issue.
She had been serving as acting governor while Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy was out of the state.
“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,” Oliver’s family said in a statement released by the governor’s office.
“She was not only a distinguished public servant but also our cherished daughter, sister, aunt, friend, and hero,” the statement added.
Oliver was born and raised in an “ethnically diverse” neighborhood in Newark, according to her official biography web page. She was elected to serve in the New Jersey State Assembly in 2003 and became the first African American woman in state history to serve as assembly speaker in 2010. Oliver has been serving as lieutenant governor since 2018.
“Tammy and I, and our children, are incredibly saddened to learn of the passing of our dear friend, colleague, and partner in government, [Oliver],” Murphy said in a post to X.
“We ask that you all keep the Oliver family and all those who loved her in your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time,” he added.
Murphy departed the state last week to spend two weeks of summer vacation in Italy, where he owns a villa, according to NJ.com.
With Oliver in the hospital on Monday and unable to perform her duties as acting governor, state Sen. Nicholas Scutari (D-NJ) assumed the role, as prescribed in the New Jersey Constitution, Murphy’s spokesperson said.
Oliver’s family requested the public respect their privacy as they grieve their lost loved one.
“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,” the family said in a statement. “Further information and details regarding memorial arrangements will be provided in due course. Until then, we appreciate your understanding and support. May her memory be a source of comfort and strength to all who knew her.”