TEANECK, N.J. -- Shock continued to spread and tributes mounted in the hours after Teaneck Mayor Lizette Parker died suddenly on Sunday.
A funeral Mass has been scheduled for Saturday morning at Mt. Olive Baptist Church in Hackensack. CLICK HERE for the details.
Parker, 44, was rushed to Holy Name Medical Center by the Teaneck Volunteer Ambulance Corps just after 7 a.m. after she had difficulty breathing, responders told Daily Voice. She was later pronounced dead at the hospital.
Parker, who previously had cancer, was elected mayor in July 2014 -- the first female African-American mayor in Bergen County history.
A social worker for more than two dozen years, Lizette Phillips Parker leaves a husband, Anthony, a records technician with the Bergen County Sheriff's Office; a 3-year-old daughter, Alyssa; and a younger brother, Timothy Arline.
"Shocking and sad. A life of promise cut much too short," state Sen. Loretta Weinberg told Daily Voice. "This is a tragedy for her family and young daughter of such a tender age -- and for our community.
"She achieved much professionally and in her political career, but her role of wife and mother was central to her life. She will be terribly missed by her family, by those of us who knew her and by our community at large."
Parker, who was graduated from Montclair State University with a Bachelor of Arts degree and from Fairleigh Dickinson University with a Master's Degree in administrative science, was chairwoman of the Teaneck Democrat Municipal Organization.
Two months ago, Parker sponsored her 8th annual African-American History Month breakfast. Last year, the Teaneck Chamber of Commerce named her its Woman of the Year.
“Thank you for the soup” were among the final words that Deputy Teaneck Mayor Elie Katz told Daily Voice that he heard from Parker.
The mayor told Katz she wasn’t feeling well last week and so he had chicken soup delivered to her house.
“We were talking last week on the phone about how well we work together,” said Katz, who assumes the role of acting mayor. “She knew I had her back”
Parker "was a dedicated public servant who loved her family, loved her constituents and loved Teaneck," Michael Pagan wrote on his Facebook page. "She was a friend and an inspiring role model to us all, and will be dearly missed.
"This loss will be felt throughout Teaneck, Bergen County and all of New Jersey for years to come," wrote Pagan, a candidate for council next month who works as a public information officer for Bergen County government. "My thoughts and prayers are with her and her family during this difficult time.
"We will always carry you in our hearts, Lizette," We love you. RIP."