ST. LOUIS COUNTY – Hazel Erby, a longtime St. Louis County Councilwoman, died on Friday (July 2, 2021). She was 75.
Erby had had cancer, her friend and Council Chairwoman Rita Heard Days said.
Erby graduated from Vashon High School and then attended Lincoln University and Harris-Stowe State College, now University. She lived in University City and joined the council in 2004 as a Democrat representing District 1. She was the first African-American woman on the St. Louis County Council and served there for 15 years.
Days, who succeeded Erby on the council, said Erby had pushed hard for racial equity throughout her career. Day added, “If there was any such thing as a dictionary of public servants, her name goes right there.”
When Sam Page became interim St. Louis County Executive in 2019, he named Erby as the director of diversity, equity and inclusion. But after he fired her in 2020 she sued, alleging that St. Louis County violated Missouri’s whistleblower law.
St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones said via Twitter that Erby had been “a trailblazer for Black women in elected office in this region.”
Former U.S. Rep. William Lacy Clay, D-Mo., also used the trailblazer term and said Erby was “a woman of courage who truly loved the community she served so well, for so long.”
County Councilman Tim Fitch, a Republican, said people who had known Erby “never had to wonder where she stood on any issue.” Erby, Fitch added, “represented her constituents on important matters without compromise.”
Earlier this year, the Missouri Legislature declared Sept. 22, Erby’s birthday, as Hazel Erby Day.
Funeral arrangements have yet to be announced.