Trailblazing St. Louis County Councilwoman Hazel Erby dies at 75

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ST. LOUIS, Mo. – Former St. Louis County Councilwoman Hazel Erby has passed away at 75-years-old. She was battling pancreatic cancer.

Erby was elected to represent the first district as the first African American woman on the council in 2004. She resigned from her seat to join Sam Page’s administration as St. Louis County’s first Director of Diversity and Inclusion in 2019.

Page fired Erby in 2020 and named St. Louis County NAACP vice president Kenny Murdoch to replace her as acting director.

Erby filed a discrimination complaint against Page’s administration and a lawsuit in St. Louis County under the whistleblower law. She said Page replaced her after she pointed out that some of the contractors for St. Louis County weren’t in compliance with laws to ensure minorities and women got a fair share of the business.

Page and Erby were often at odds on the county council but managed to work together, especially when suspicions were raised about former St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger’s pay-to-play scheme. Page recognized Erby for being the first to sound an alarm about Stenger’s wrongdoings.

Councilwoman Rita Heard Days was Erby’s successor on the county council.  

“The citizens of the first district were always her main concern,” she said.  

Erby was also credited for forming a coalition of north county communities advocating on behalf of residents. 

“She worked with our youth, worked with our elected officials and worked with our clergies. She just worked with everybody and she always put other people before herself,” Vinita Park Mayor James McGee said.

Several north county officials credit Erby for setting an example they now try to follow.  

“She will be sorely missed,” Moline Acres Mayor Michele DeShay said. “We all have a great model to move her legacy forward.” 

“Whenever there was an issue coming up pertaining to north county, you knew we were going to have a person who was going to fight for north county,” Dellwood Mayor Reggie Jones said.  

Erby was widely respected. Here are some of the messages that elected leaders and others are posting about the leader:

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