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Former Queens Borough President Helen Marshall Dies at 87

 Helen Marshall during her final State of the Borough address on January 22, 2013.
Helen Marshall during her final State of the Borough address on January 22, 2013.
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DNAinfo/Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska

QUEENS — Helen Marshall, who served three terms as Queens borough president, died Friday, officials said. She was 87.

Melinda Katz, who succeeded Marshall as borough president, called her “a larger-than-life figure in the civic life of Queens and the state of New York.”

Before starting her political career, Marshall, a graduate of Queens College, worked as a teacher and later became the director of the Langston Hughes Library on Northern Boulevard, which she founded in 1969.

She represented Queens in the State Assembly for eight years and then in the City Council for 10 years.

In 2002, she became the first African-American and the second woman to serve as Queens borough president and worked in that capacity until 2013 when she moved to California.

“During her decades in public life, 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,” Katz said in a statement.

Marshall was also remembered as a devoted supporter of the Queens Library.

“Queens Library would not be the world-class library system it is today without Helen,” the library president and CEO Dennis Walcott said in a statement.

“She believed in libraries as places where communities are empowered and inspired, where children can nurture a love of learning and discovery and where adults can gain the skills they need to adapt to a changing workforce," Walcott added.

According to the New York Times, which cited a report by the Center for an Urban Future, Marshall directed more money toward library projects in Queens than the four previous borough presidents combined.

Marshall’s husband, Donald, had passed away earlier this year. She is survived by her children, Donald Jr. and Agnes Marie.