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Wife of former Assembly Speaker dies

By David Wildstein, January 08 2019 9:53 am

Lola Woodson, whose husband was the first black Speaker of the New Jersey State Assembly, died on December 28.  She was 90.

Woodson was working as a receptionist at the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection in 1973 when she met The Rev. Dr. S. Howard Woodson, Jr. the pastor of the Shiloh Baptist Church in Trenton.  Woodson was the Associate Assembly Minority Leader at the time.

Rev. Woodson was elected to the Trenton City Council in 1962 and won a 1964 special election for an Assembly seat.  He became the first black Assembly Minority Leader in 1968 and was expected to become Assembly Speaker after Democrats won a 40-39 majority in the 1971 general election.  A political deal with four Democratic legislators installed Republican Thomas Kean as speaker.

After Democrats won 66 seats in the 1973 Watergate landslide, Woodson served as speaker in 1974 and 1975.  He left the legislature in 1976 when Gov. Brendan Byrne appointed him president of the Civil Service Commission.

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