History-Making Politician Dies At 71

On Monday July 31, 2023, New Jersey Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver was hospitalized for an undisclosed illness. On Monday, the governor’s office announced her hospitalization and stated that she was “unable to discharge the duties of Acting Governor.” In her place, Senate President Nick Scutari has stepped in as acting governor until the state’s governor, Phil Murphy, returns from his vacation in Italy. 

Unfortunately, Oliver will not return to the governor’s office. Just one day after her hospitalization was announced, her family released a statement sharing the sad news of her death at the age of 71. The statement explains, “Sheila Y. Oliver leaves behind a legacy of dedication, service, and inspiration.” The statement continues, “We will remember her commitment to the people of New Jersey and her tireless efforts to uplift the community.”

Oliver, who was born in Newark, New Jersey, started her political career in the 1990s on the East Orange School Board. She was later elected Essex County freeholder and later assistant Essex County administrator. She went on to become the first Black woman to serve as Assembly Speaker in New Jersey and the second ever Black woman to lead a legislative chamber in the United States.

Upon hearing the news of her death, former Governor Chris Christie wrote, “The passing of Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver is a loss for our state.” He added, “I will miss Sheila. She served as Speaker in my first term and we treated each other with kindness and respect. We got things done. She was a great person and partner.”

Watch the video below to learn more about Oliver’s career and unexpected death.

Rest in peace.