Details set for Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver’s state funeral

A funeral service for New Jersey Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver will be held on Saturday in Newark.

The body of Lt. Gov. Sheila Y. Oliver will lie in state in both the Rotunda of the capitol building in Trenton and the Essex County Historic Courthouse before her funeral and memorial service takes place on Saturday, Aug. 12, at the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Newark.

The Rev. Al Sharpton, president and founder of the National Action Network, will deliver the eulogy for Oliver, at the request of her family, according to a press release from the governor’s office.

“Lt. Gov. Oliver was a friend to me and, speaking on behalf of Pastor Steffie Bartley and (the National Action Network), someone whom we all considered to be a dependable and powerful partner in the fight for justice and equality,” Sharpton said.

On Thursday, Aug. 10, members of the public are invited to pay their respects to Oliver in the State House Rotunda, 125 W State St, Trenton.

“As we come together in shared mourning over the loss of our family member and friend Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver, we will remember the legacy she leaves behind as a changemaker and trailblazer,” said Gov. Phil Murphy. “Together, we will honor and celebrate her remarkable contributions to the state she loved, recognizing the profound impact she had on the millions of people who call New Jersey home.”

On the morning of Friday, Aug. 11, Oliver will be escorted to the Essex County Historic Courthouse by the state police honor guard. Members of the public are invited to pay their respects at the courthouse where she will lie in state.

Viewing hours in Essex will be 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Parking for the public will be available in the juror’s parking lot.

Members of the public will enter and exit through the west entrance of the building on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. Handicap accessibility is available via the entrance under the front steps of the courthouse on Springfield Avenue; upon entering the building there is an elevator to bring handicap visitors to the first floor.

On Saturday, Aug. 12, Oliver will be accompanied to the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart by the Honor Guard for the memorial service that is open to members of the public.

Following the memorial service, the casket will be escorted to her final resting place where she will be interred in a private ceremony.

East Orange Mayor Ted R. Green said that Oliver’s legacy cannot be overstated.

“She did everything with passion,” Green said. “Social justice, education and equality were the pillars of her platform and she was the epitome of a person who understood how to help and nurture people. Even in her position as lieutenant governor, she continued to care for her mother. That speaks volumes to her character and the essence
of who she was and will always be to our community.”

Green said Oliver was a personal friend who was one of the first people to endorse him in his run to become the fourteenth mayor of East Orange.

“Her love for East Orange, Essex County and the State of New Jersey was second to none and her accomplishments made us so proud,” Green said.

In addition to her role as lieutenant governor, Oliver served as commissioner of the Department of Community Affairs, where she has led efforts to strengthen and expand initiatives for fair and affordable housing, community revitalization, homelessness prevention, and local government services.

Under her leadership, the department expanded and leveraged a wide range of initiatives aimed at assisting distressed municipalities, including the federal Opportunity Zones tax incentive, the Main Street New Jersey program, the Neighborhood Preservation Program, the Neighborhood Revitalization Tax Credit program, and the Urban Enterprise Zone Program, which was renewed by legislation she signed in 2021.

Lamont O. Repollet, president of Kean University, said Oliver’s work will inspire public service leaders for generations to come.

“While I was the state’s education commissioner, I had the great privilege of her genuine friendship in Gov. Murphy’s administration, where she served as the second lieutenant governor in the history of our state,” Repollet said. “I will always remember her gentle nod during Cabinet meetings, which was a sign between her and me that meant ‘thank you for that…’”

U.S. Rep. Donald M. Payne Jr. said he was devastated by Oliver’s passing and noted her strong leadership and compassion.

“Her oratory skills were second to none,” Payne said “You were always humbled when she used those skills to speak of you. She leaves a void in our hearts.”
Newark Mayor Ras J. Baraka said Newark lost a favorite daughter, who was cherished and revered.

“Sheila was probably the most knowledgeable elected official in the entire state and an authoritative historian in her own right. Her biography is filled with many ‘firsts’ as a Black woman, but underlying her many accomplishments will always be the legacy and inspiration she leaves us with: to broaden our vision to see greater possibilities, to expand our embrace to include those on the fringes, and to deepen our commitment to democracy and liberty for all.”

State Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin said Oliver was brilliant and fearless with an ability to “cut through the nonsense and the politics and get right to the core of an issue, right to what mattered.”

Assemblywoman Britnee N. Timberlake, who took over Oliver’s 34th Legislative District seat in the Assembly when Oliver became lieutenant governor in 2018, said Oliver’s down-to-earth, humorous nature endeared her to everyone she encountered.

“I cherish the memories of sitting next to her, laughing and enjoying Beyoncé’s 2018 ‘On the Run’ concert—a shared passion that showcased her admiration for hardworking women excelling in their respective fields,” Timberlake said.

Gov. Phil Murphy said selecting Oliver as his running mate was “the best decision I ever made.”