Frances O. Thompson
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Hudson County, N.J.’s first African-American councilwoman, Frances O. Thompson, died Sunday after battling cancer, NJ.com reports. She was 74.

Thompson, who was director of the Hudson County Office of Minority and Women Business Enterprise, was first pushed into the public arena in 1985 after she was elected to represent Ward F as councilwoman, making her the first African-American woman to achieve this feat in Hudson County. She held office for four years, until 1989, before later going on to work for the county in 1993, NJ.com notes.

“She was my best friend in the whole wide world,” Thompson’s son, Glenn Bowen, told the news site.

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Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise remembered Thompson as a “wonderful Jersey City lady.”

“She was a gem,” DeGise said, adding that Thompson’s “ability to say what was on her mind” made her a “great representative as an elected official and appointed official.”

“It’s hard to imagine how you can replace her,” DeGise said. “I don’t know if there are two Frances Thompsons; I doubt it.”

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Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop lauded her as a “trailblazer and leader” who strove to “empower people of all backgrounds.”

“Her own life was one that demonstrates the importance of breaking boundaries and striving for achievement and never giving up,” Fulop said in a statement, according to NJ.com.  “Her leadership in diversity and fostering opportunities for all of Jersey City’s residents is her lasting legacy, having paved the way for thousands of young people in Jersey City, Hudson County and beyond.”

Read more at NJ.com.