Edwina Davis, a beloved fixture in the New Jersey statehouse for nearly 30 years, passed away today.
She was 81.
Davis has served as the gatekeeper and receptionist in the office of the governor’s chief counsel since 1992, when Robert DeCotiis held the post under Gov. Jim Florio. She has remained there through seven governors.
While the statehouse is undergoing renovations and the governor’s office has moved down the street, Davis was installed at the front desk with the state troopers as the first person a visitor would come in contact with.
As the longest-serving employee in the governor’s office, she occupied parking space #1 – a hat tip to her seniority and the respect a generation of gubernatorial staffers had for her.
While Davis has missed most of the last year dealing with some health issues, she was at work in the governor’s office as recently as last week.
Gov Phil Murphy called Davis “an institution in the governor’s office” and said she served “every administration well with her amazing spirit.”
“Edwina was an institution: the face of Counsel’s office for over a quarter century. Do you know anyone in the history of State Street who was as beloved by both parties, by three branches, and by the fourth estate? Edwina sure was — and for good reason,” recalled Bill Castner, who served as chief counsel to Gov. Jon Corzine. “Her smile, small talk and motherly hugs were offered out on an equal opportunity basis: whether you were a sitting governor, a staffer, a lobbyist waiting for a meeting, or the guy working the snack stand. She had a huge heart and will be missed forever.”
Matt Platkin, who served as Murphy’s first chief counsel, said that Davis “warmly welcomed me to the Governor’s Office on my first day and told me what a privilege it was to work there.”
“Seven governors and three decades in, she never lost her appreciation for the office,” Platkin said. “She was right and will be sorely missed.”
Former Gov. Richard J. Codey had the highest praise for Davis.
“I loved her to death, she was the nicest, sweetest person you could ever meet. Until her last days at work she kept my bobblehead on her desk– and she fought back when a Christie staffer tried to tell her to remove it,” Codey said. “I wish I could send it up to heaven where I’m sure she belongs. To her family, as you know, she was simply the best.”
Former Gov. James E. McGreevey said called Davis “an unparalleled source of goodness.”
“I survived daily by eating her roasted soy nuts off the wee bowl on her desk,” McGreevey said. “Edwina was kind and respectful to all regardless of station. Edwina fought the good fight, finished the race, she kept the faith.”
A viewing for Davis will be held at the Huber Funeral Home in Bordentown on February 22 from 2-5 PM.
This story was updated at 1:26 PM with comment from Platkin, at 2:29 PM with comment from Murphy, at 3:42 PM with comment from Codey and at 4:00 with comment from McGreevey. It was also updated at 9:33 AM with funeral arrangements.