Del. Hattie Harrison, who represented Baltimore in the Maryland General Assembly since 1973, died Monday night.
Harrison’s death was announced during the House of Delegates' Monday night session by Del. Curt Anderson, the chairman of the city delegation.
House Speaker Michael Busch called it is a sad day, and said colleagues had affectionately dubbed Harrison "The Godmother."
"For a lot of us, she was the glue that held us together through a lot of tough times," Busch said.
He also said whoever takes her place would be trying to replace a lawmaker who was an important presence in Annapolis.
"There will be someone who will come down here and take her seat, but no one will ever take her place," Busch said.
Although Harrion's health has been in decline in recent years, audible gasps from legislators could be heard on a recording of the Monday night session.
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake released a statement calling Harrison her friend, and recalling her stern but calm demeanor and matriarchal standing in the community.
"Delegate Harrison was a true champion for the communities of East Baltimore and the City as a whole. She served with honor and distinction as a trailblazing legislator, becoming the first African-American woman in the state to chair a legislative committee, among her many accomplishments. Hattie was the epitome of a dedicated public servant, teaching students at Dunbar High School for years before serving her constituents in the General Assembly for four decades."
City Council President Bernard C. "Jack" Young also remembered Harrison, a teacher, as a "mother figure" at Dunbar High School.
"While many may remember Del. Harrison as a fierce and effective advocate on behalf of her constituents —who rewarded her service by making her the longest serving member of the House of Delegates—I will personally remember her as a larger-than-life figure who nurtured and educated generations of young children growing up in East Baltimore," Young said in a statement.