Frances O. Thompson, a local government innovator, died from cancer on Sunday in Jersey City, New Jersey. She was 74.

Her esteemed career in public service began in 1985 when she was elected Ward F Councilman, making her the first African-American council member in Hudson County, New Jersey’s history. She held the office for four years and worked for the county again in 1993.

Thompson was recently the director of the Hudson County Office of Minority and Women Business Enterprise, according to The Jersey Journal.

Her son, Glenn Bowen, said in an interview with The Journal, “She was my best friend in the whole wide world.” He also said she led a beautiful life and instilled a drive within him to lead through public service.

She was very active as an associate pastor at Mount Olivet Baptist Church. Thompson was an accomplished student who received her doctorate in organization management from Capella University and a public administration master’s degree from Rutgers.

The former councilwoman held numerous accolades, like the Humanitarian Award from the American Conference of Diversity in 2013, a feature in Who’s Who for Executive Women in 2012, and she received the Hudson County Baptist Ministry’s community service award.

Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop called Thompson a “trail blazer” who was inclusive to 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. “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.”

Bowen said he cherishes the last moment he had with his mother: planting a kiss on her forehead.

“It made me part of her spirit,” he said. “It made me a better person. It made me appreciate life more.”

SOURCES: The Jersey Journal | PHOTO CREDIT: Getty, Twitter

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