Helen M. Marshall, the daughter of Guyanese immigrants, who was the first Black borough president of Queens, died on Saturday at her home in California, this is according to her former chief of staff, Alexandra Rosa.
Marshall who was 87, served three terms as borough president, starting in 2001, has been remembered as a champion of public libraries and her borough.
Melinda Katz, the current Queens borough president, who replaced Marshall, said she was a “larger-than-life figure in the civic life of Queens.
“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,” she said in a statement.
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams said Marshall was “a dear friend and colleague, a true asset to the residents of Queens and New York City.
Before entering politics, Marshall was a community activist in her East Elmhurst, Queens neighborhood, where she pushed for job training programs and economic development.
Marshall was born in Harlem on September 30, 1929.
She graduated from Queens College, City University of New York, with a bachelor’s degree in education and was an early childhood teacher for eight years.
In 1969, Marshall left teaching to become the first Director of the Langston Hughes Library in Queens.
She was married to Donald Marshall until his death in January; they had two children, Donald Jr. and Agnes Marie.
As a Democrat, Marshall was elected as Borough President of Queens in November 2001to succeed the term-limited Claire Shulman.
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