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Women mentored by late New Jersey Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver share memories and the profound impact she made on many

N.J. assemblywoman reflects on being mentored by Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver
N.J. assemblywoman reflects on being mentored by Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver 02:24

NEWARK, N.J. -- CBS New York continues to reflect on the life of New Jersey's late lieutenant governor, Sheila Oliver.

The 71-year-old died last week.

Oliver was the first Black woman to serve as Assembly speaker, and then, in 2017, as lieutenant governor.

Oliver's memory will endure through the women she mentored.

Sheila Oliver helped open doors for women she mentored 05:08

Purple bunting is in front of Assemblywoman Britnee Timberlake's office in East Orange.

"How many people can literally say they have met the physical manifestation of blazing a trail for you? And that's what she did for me," Timberlake said.

Timberlake was Oliver's replacement in the legislative district when Oliver became lieutenant governor.

"Lieutenant Sheila Y. Oliver was my dear friend, my mentor. This very desk that I sit at is hers. This chair I sit in is hers," Timberlake said. "Looking at her as an icon in those spaces did something for this young Black woman."

READ MORESheila Oliver leaves behind a legacy of helping those in need

Timberlake said Oliver taught her to be a legislator and to be the voice for the community, adding the 71-year-old encouraged her to embrace motherhood.

"It's the loss that feels so personal to me, but it's really a loss for the entire state, the country," Timberlake said. "Even across borders we hosted three international delegations from West Africa together."

"To so many Black women, it literally shattered us," added Tai Cooper, the chief community development officer for the New Jersey Economic Development Authority.

READ MORELt. Gov. Sheila Oliver to be honored with official portrait

Women Oliver mentored say the political world won't be the same without her.

"She's an icon, but she's also one of the most, kind gentle, sweet and dynamic women that you ever get the pleasure of knowing. So for her not be here is a seismic shift and seismic loss," Cooper said.

Shante Palmer, vice chancellor of external and governmental relations at Rutgers University-Newark, served on the New Jersey Legislative Black Caucus Foundation with the late lieutenant governor and knew her for years.

"Business owners, not-for-profit organizations alike, we're all feeling a big loss," Palmer said. "She will forever be missed, and I will hold her dearly in my heart forever."

READ MOREGov. Phil Murphy reflects on life of Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver

The three-day celebration of the lieutenant governor's life will begin on Thursday. She'll lie in state at the statehouse rotunda, and then on Friday at the historic Essex County Courthouse. Oliver's funeral is scheduled for Saturday.

Family members have not divulged Oliver's cause of death.

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