Lucinda Florio Obituary, Death – Former First Lady Lucinda Florio, a former public school teacher who co-led efforts to raise literacy in New Jersey with her late husband Jim Florio in a dignified and graceful manner, passed away today. She was 75. Just 52 days have passed since her husband’s passing. On Valentine’s Day 1988, she wed Jim Florio, a seven-term congressman who was gearing up for his third run for governor. She assisted in softening her husband’s image in preparation for what ultimately proved to be landslide victories in the primary and general elections. She was a constant on the campaign trail, where the formerly reclusive teacher gained enormous popularity first with the Democratic party’s leadership, then with voters.
The Princeton governor’s mansion, Drumthwacket, underwent renovations under Florio’s leadership as first lady. The Florios were the initial residents. Lucinda Florio left school before her senior year of high school to start a family, but she returned to school when her son was five and enrolled in community college. She attended Glassboro State College (now Rowan University) part-time for six years to earn her degree before taking a job as an elementary school teacher.
After being separated for four years, she moved into the same Camden County apartment building as Jim Florio, and the two became neighbors. Gov. Phil Murphy and First Lady Tammy Murphy noted that as First Lady, she “broke from tradition by choosing to be an active partner in governing, creating the Office of the First Lady, and earning praise in one news report for her “enthusiasm, curiosity, and quiet tenacity.” “We lost a friend, and our state lost a model citizen,”
The former teacher “used her platform to focus on children’s literacy and health and was a steadfast champion for women’s rights and continued to be an advocate for numerous organizations and causes for the rest of her life,” according to Murphy. The governor added, “Drumthwacket evolved under her watchful eye from a stately mansion to a home that truly welcomed all New Jerseyans.