Shirley Rice, the wife of state Senator Ronald L. Rice (D-28) of Newark, has died.
Governor Phil Murphy paid tribute to Mrs. Rice this morning at his emergency hurricane briefing.
“We are keeping senator Rice and his family in our prayers,” said Murphy. “May God bless Shirley’s memory and all who loved her.”
Mrs. Rice died last suddenly night.
She was working as an administrator at the University of California-Berkeley when she met the future Senator Rice. She later served as an administrator at Essex County College.
As Newark Council President Mildred Crump said, according to the governor, “she also made time for a game of cards with her friends.”
Mrs. Rice and Senator Rice were inseparable.
“Even though a tough marine, he is completely crushed,” Murphy said of the veteran senator from Newark, with whom the governor spoke last night.
Senator Richard Codey (D-27), former Governor of New Jersey and a close friend and political ally of Senator Rice, ofered the following statement:
“When Senator Rice told me last night about Shirley’s passing, I knew Ron and the entire Newark community had suffered a great loss.
“She was a wonderful human being who was a constant presence in Ron’s life, and one of the sweetest and kindest people you could ever meet. She was a wonderful wife, mother and grandmother. Shirley was well respected higher education professional, especially at Essex County College where she served as dean of students, and throughout the entire community.
“She will no doubt be missed by her family and friends. I’m sure she has already joined the Democratic Party in heaven.”
Later this morning, Murphy issued a formal statement.
“Tammy and I would like to send our deepest condolences to a dear friend and partner, Senator Ron Rice, on the sudden loss of his wife, Shirley, last night.
“As a college administrator, Shirley had a tremendous impact on her students. As a friend to so many, she was always somebody that they could turn to. She will be greatly missed by those who had the honor of meeting her and the many people she helped through her career and her friendship.
“We are keeping Senator Rice, his son Ron, daughter Yuki, and their family and friends in our prayers during this extraordinarily difficult time.”
Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick likewise issued a statement after news of the death of Mrs. Rice.
“I am shocked and so sad to hear of the unexpected passing of my friend’s beloved wife,” said Bramnick. “Shirley was a wonderful mother and wife, and she was beloved by all who knew her. She will be deeply missed. My heartfelt prayers are with Ron, their children, and their entire family as they mourn this unspeakable loss.”
Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin (D-19) issued the following statement upon news of the passing of Shirley Rice, wife of State Senator Ron Rice:
“My heart goes out to Senator Ron Rice and his family as they mourn Shirley’s sudden passing. Her loss is truly tragic for all who knew her – especially her husband and children. By all accounts, she was a smart, kind person who helped NJ students and loved her family dearly. My thoughts and prayers are with her loved ones.”