“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. “
August 1, 2023
TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Lieutenant Governor Sheila Oliver passed away after a reported medical emergency, yesterday July 31, 2023.
Yesterday, July 31, 2023, Communications Director Mahen Gunaratna, released a statement that said, “Lieutenant Governor Oliver is currently receiving medical care at Cooperman Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston and is unable to discharge the duties of Acting Governor at this time. Pursuant to Article V, Section I, paragraph 7 of the New Jersey Constitution, Senate President Scutari has assumed the duties of Acting Governor effective this morning. We wish the Lieutenant Governor well as she undergoes medical care. We will provide updates to the situation as they arise.”
This afternoon it was announced that she passed away at the hospital. Statements from Govenor Murphy, and the Oliver Family below. As statements come in from public officials they will be added to the story.
Statement from Governor Murphy on the Passing of Lieutenant Governor Sheila Oliver:
“Tammy and I, and our children, are incredibly saddened and distraught to learn of the passing of our dear friend, colleague, and partner in government, Lieutenant Governor Sheila Oliver.
“When I selected her to be my running mate in 2017, Lieutenant Governor 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. 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.”
“In the five and a half years that we served together in office, in addition to her responsibilities as Lieutenant Governor, Sheila led the Department of Community Affairs, handling some of the most challenging issues facing our State, including the revitalization of our cities, affordable housing obligations, and homelessness prevention. As someone who was born and raised in Newark, and who has called East Orange home for more than 40 years, Sheila did not view these issues in the abstract because she lived with them every day of her life. She brought a unique and invaluable perspective to our public policy discourse and served as an inspiration to millions of women and girls everywhere, especially young women of color.”
“Beyond all of that, she was an incredibly genuine and kind person whose friendship and partnership will be irreplaceable. We ask that you all keep the Oliver family and all those who knew and loved her in your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.”
Statement from the Oliver Family:
“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.”
“As we come to terms with this profound loss, we kindly request that you respect the privacy of the Oliver family during this difficult time as they grieve their beloved Sheila.
“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.
“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.”
Lieutenant Governor Sheila Oliver
Statement from Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin on the Passing of Lieutenant Governor Sheila Oliver
Lieutenant Governor Sheila Oliver is a hero. She was brilliant. She was fearless. And she was unfailingly kind. Her life was marked by service – to her community, her county, her state, and her country. Millions of New Jerseyans live in a more just and equitable state thanks to her efforts.
The first woman of color to serve as Speaker of New Jersey’s General Assembly and to hold statewide office, she was a trailblazer and an inspiration to us all. She showed young women, in particular, that truly anything is possible. But more than anything, she never forgot what this work was all about: the people. And she always believed things could get better – better for an individual, better for a community, better for a state.
She could spend hours talking about the impact of a new housing development on a particular neighborhood or how a hospital program would provide meaningful care to people who previously lacked access. She always cut through the nonsense and the politics and right to the core of an issue, right to what mattered. Despite her stature, it was never about her – it was always about the people. She remembered everyone, and treated each person with the same dignity and respect. No one I have ever met understood the levers of government and how they could be used to help people better than Sheila Oliver.
I am immensely grateful to have been able to learn some small amount from her example and I know that her impact will be felt for generations to come. My heart goes out to her to family and loved ones, her community in East Orange, and the millions of people across our state and our country who were inspired by her example. The world needs more Sheila Olivers. May she rest in peace.
Statement from Mayor W. Reed Gusciora on the Passing of Lt. Governor Sheila Oliver
Flags to Fly at Half-Staff in Honor of Former Lt. Governor
Today, I join colleagues, friends, and family in mourning the passing of Lieutenant Governor Sheila Oliver. Starting out as a member of the East Orange Board of Education, then as an Essex County Commissioner, Assemblywoman, Assembly Speaker, and finally as Lt. Governor, Sheila Oliver was a New Jerseyan through and through.
Sheila was a trailblazer herself, and an advocate for equality of others. She became the first Black woman to serve as Speaker of the New Jersey General Assembly in 2010, and I was proud to join my fellow Assembly Democrats in unanimously electing her to that office. In 2012, she oversaw the passage of our marriage equality legislation in the Assembly, and continued to advocate for marriage equality until it became the law of this great State.
I knew her as a colleague and a friend: I was honored to serve with Sheila in the Assembly for 14 years. And for the last five years, I’ve continued to work with her in her roles as Lieutenant Governor and Commissioner of the Department of Community Affairs. She was the calm in the midst of storm, the voice of reason in the midst of division, and the embodiment of hope during times of despair. Her advocacy was fueled by the unyielding belief that everyone deserved to be treated equally under the law and that we all could do our part to change history.
I am deeply saddened to hear of her passing and on behalf of the Capital City, we send our deepest condolences to Sheila’s family and to all those who knew her. I hereby order that flags be flown at half-staff at city buildings and facilities from today until the Lt. Governor’s interment.
Booker Statement on Passing of Lieutenant Governor Sheila Y. Oliver
U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-N.J.) issued the following statement:
“I am deeply saddened to hear of the passing of the Honorable Lieutenant Governor Sheila Y. Oliver, a trailblazer and dedicated public servant.”
“Lt. Governor Oliver’s legacy of service and devotion to the people of New Jersey will never be forgotten. She spent 27 years in public office, where she fought tirelessly for social justice, affordable housing, and economic opportunity for New Jerseyans, and especially for communities too often left out and left without a voice. I was fortunate enough to have benefited from Sheila’s leadership and advocacy throughout my career as Mayor of Newark, where she was born and raised, and again as U.S. Senator. I will miss her and her inspiring leadership and yet her legacy will live on for countless generations to come.”
“Lt. Governor Oliver made history as the first Black woman to serve as Assembly speaker and the first to win a statewide election in New Jersey. Because of her, young women all across our state know it is possible to reach new heights while also serving others.”
“My heart is heavy, and my condolences and prayers are with Lt. Governor Oliver’s family, friends, and the people of New Jersey as we grieve this immeasurable loss.”