Helen Marshall, the first African-American Queens borough president, died Saturday. She was 87.
“She was a loving mother, a loving grandmother, a loving aunt and a loving sister, and she loved Queens, and always did everything she could to take care of everybody,” said her daughter, Agnes Marie Marshall.
Helen Marshall, who served as president from 2002 to 2013, was in hospice care in Palm Desert, California, said her daughter, who had just returned from visiting her.
Elected officials including Mayor Bill de Blasio offered tribues to Marshall. Melinda Katz, the current borough president, saluted Marshall as a trailblazer and “larger than life” figure.
“During her decades in public life, Helen fought tenaciously to improve our children’s schools, to address seemingly intractable quality-of-life issues and to secure a fair share of City resources for Queens,” Katz said in a statement.
Marshall began her public service as an early childhood educator after earning a bachelor’s degree in that field from Queens College, according to the History Makers website.
In 1969, she helped founded and become the first director of New York City’s Langston Hughes Library.
Five years later, she began her ascent in city politics, winning election as a Democratic district leader. In 1982, she won the first of five terms to the State Assembly, and in 1991, voters in New York City’s 21st District elected her to the City Council.
Marshall’s husband, Donald, died a month ago, her daughter said.
Other survivors include her son, Donald Jr.