Former Rep. Tamara Grigsby dies of health complications

MADISON— Former state Rep. Tamara Grigsby has died of health complications at age 41.

Dane County Executive Joe Parisi announced Grigsby's death on Tuesday. Grigsby dealt with cancer during her time in the Legislature, stepping down in 2013 after eight years representing a portion of Milwaukee.

Grigsby later became the community outreach coordinator in Parisi's office and was recently appointed director of the county's new Department of Equity and Inclusion.

In a statement, Parisi's office said funeral services were pending and the family had requested privacy. Parisi described Grigsby as a "special human being" whose sole motivation was to make a difference in the lives of others.

Governor Scott Walker issued this statement on the passing of Tamara Grigsby:

"Our prayers go out to the family of former Rep. Tamara Grigsby.  We appreciate her dedication to public service through her role in both state and local government.  Tonette and I will continue to keep her family and friends in our thoughts as they mourn her loss."

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett released the following statement regarding the passing of former Representative Tamara Grigsby:   

“I am deeply saddened by the news of former State Representative Tamara Grigsby’s passing. We have lost a truly great fighter for social justice.

Tamara was an exceptional advocate for families and children and a fierce defender of Milwaukee and our public schools. She consistently championed the rights of the poor and compassionately argued for fair and equal treatment for all our citizens.

Tamara worked tirelessly to improve the lives of so many. She will be sorely missed.”

Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele issued this statement on the passing of Grigsby:

“Tamara Grigsby was a tireless champion for equality, fairness, and opportunity. Her commitment to public service is to be admired and emulated.

Milwaukee, and all of Wisconsin, is better because of her advocacy for our public schools, stronger communities, addressing racial and ethnic disparities in our criminal justice system, and advancing equality of rights and experience for gay, lesbian, and bisexual individuals.

My thoughts and prayers go out to Tamara’s family during this time.”

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos issued this statement on the passing of Representative Grigsby:

“On behalf of the Wisconsin State Assembly, I would like to extend our condolences to her family and friends. Tamara will be remembered as a passionate public servant.  My prayers are with her family at this difficult time.”

Senator Ron Johnson issued this statement on Grigsby's passing:

“It was heartbreaking to hear of Tamara Grigsby’s unexpected passing, and it is a heavy loss that I know is being felt across the state by those of us who were lucky enough to have known her. Tamara was a hero and an inspiration to so many people in our community because she poured her heart and soul into the job of fighting for Milwaukee’s working families. She dedicated her life to serving those who could only dream about making it into the middle class; to those who could offer nothing more than gratitude for her tireless work; and to those whose interests were often forgotten when it came time to determine our state’s legislative agenda.

When the Legislature was in session, Milwaukee’s children and their families could go to sleep at night
knowing that they had a champion in Madison, making sure that their voices were heard and their needs were addressed, and many times, she was still on the Assembly floor, standing up for their rights, when they woke up in the morning. Words like “steadfast” and “compassionate” are given meaning by special people like Tamara, and it is up to each and every one of us to do our best to live up to her shining example.”

Congresswoman Gwen Moore issued this statement on Grigsby's passing:

“Today, our hearts are heavy to hear of Tamara Grigsby’s passing. I had the great honor to have Tamara as one of my successors in the Wisconsin State Assembly, in fact, I encouraged her to run for the seat. She was my friend and I was captivated by her passion and commitment to improving the lives of her constituents. Tamara was a prolific legislator and I have no doubt that her profound impact in our community will be felt for generations to come.

Tamara personally inspired me and countless others with her integrity, courage, and strength. I ask all Wisconsinites to please join me in paying tribute to a young, brilliant woman who proudly served our state with dignity and conviction. I offer my thoughts and prayers to her family, friends, and colleagues during this difficult time.”

Senator Lena Taylor issued this statement on Grigsby's passing:

“It is with a heavy heart that I mourn the passing of former State Representative Tamara Grigsby.  So enamored by her passion and commitment to the well-being of Milwaukee's children, I was proud that she was my successor in the Assembly.  Quickly immersing herself in the role, Tamara's catalytic work lives on in the Department of Children and Families (DCF) and Wisconsin's Young Star program.  Working alongside her, in an effort to place juvenile corrections within DCF, she foresaw the problems we are experiencing at Lincoln Hills today.

Tamara wasn’t a politician.  She embodied all that we seek in our public servants.  A skilled and thoughtful legislator, she fought for better public policies.  Tamara was driven by the knowledge that at the end of every bill or budget motion was a real person that would be impacted by her work. Wisconsin children and families have lost a fierce voice in the passing of Rep. Tamara Grigsby.”

Rep. Peter Barca issued this statement on the passing of Rep. Grigsby:

“I am deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Rep. Tamara Grigsby. I had the great fortune to serve alongside her for four years in the Assembly, where I saw firsthand what an exemplary public servant she was and how she always put the people of Milwaukee and the state of Wisconsin first.

During her time in the legislature and throughout her life, Rep. Grigsby dedicated herself to ensuring basic fairness, equality and justice for all our citizens. She also served admirably as a member of the legislature’s Joint Finance Committee during one of the most tumultuous sessions in Wisconsin political history. When she endured a life-threatening battle with cancer toward the end of her Assembly tenure, she fought as courageously and forcefully as she always did on behalf of her constituents.

Rep. Grigsby was an exceptional legislator, colleague and friend, and she will be sorely missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with Rep. Grigsby’s family at this extremely difficult time.”

Rep. Mandela Barnes issued this statement on the passing of Representative Grigsby:

“No words can do justice to describe not only the loss of Tamara, but also her unmeasurable dedication to, and accomplishments for, our community. She was a proud voice and true champion in fighting disparities in health, education, child welfare, criminal justice, employment, and income across our state.

My thoughts and prayers are with her friends, family, and those who worked alongside her. As a dear friend, close confidant, and honored mentor to me, I know and will ensure that her legacy of fighting to make a difference in the lives of others will endure.”

Rep. Cory Mason issued a statement on the passing of former Representative Tamara Grigsby:

“I had the privilege of serving with Tamara Grigsby for three terms in the Legislature, and served with Representative Grigsby on the Joint Committee on Finance. While serving on Finance, members get the opportunity to travel around the state, listen to different constituencies, and spend countless hours working on the budget process together. During that process, you also get to learn the mettle of a person. Tamara was an outspoken advocate for the poor and the underrepresented. Unlike so many of our colleagues who may use their position to curry favor with special interests, Tamara rejected that and was a tireless advocate for those who have no voice in the process. I have lost a colleague and a friend. Wisconsin lost a voice for justice. Godspeed, Tamara.”

Rep. Evan Goyke issued this statement on the passing of Grigsby:

“I am devastated to learn of the passing of Rep. Grigsby. She was a friend and colleague whom I will miss very much.

Rep. Grigsby represented the 18th Assembly District with passion and vigor. Her advocacy for her neighbors and community was unwavering. She leaves behind an incredible legacy. Even after serving in the legislature she continued her passion for public service in Madison with Dane County leading their efforts to address inequality, poverty, and social justice.

Rep. Grigsby will be missed by her community both in Milwaukee and Madison.

My prayers go out to her family and friends in this difficult time. She will be deeply missed."

 Rep. JoCasta Zamarripa issued this statement on Grigsby's passing:

“I served my freshman term with Tamara Grigsby. It was an honor and a privilege for me. Today, I am
heartbroken to hear of her passing.”

She was a fighter. A champion of reproductive justice. She set the bar high. My thoughts and prayers are
with Tamara and her dear family and friends.”

Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin released this statement on Grigsby's passing:

"Today, with a heavy heart, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin staff mourns the loss of one of our biggest champions and dearest friends, former State Representative Tamara Grigsby. Rep. Grigsby was a tireless leader for reproductive health and justice throughout her professional career.  A longtime member of the Planned Parenthood family, she was a on the Planned Parenthood Advocates board of directors prior to being elected to public office.

During her time in the state legislature, Tamara championed dozens of bills aimed at helping people who needed it the most. She also was a fierce opponent of policies aimed at blocking health care access and interfering in a woman’s ability to make her own decisions about family and parenting.

In the spring of 2011, Rep. Grigsby was awarded Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin’s most prestigious award—the Rebecca C. Young legislative leadership award.  That afternoon, in the midst of one of the bleakest times for women’s health in our state, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin Executive Director Tanya Atkinson said about Tamara:

“From working to pass important priorities like Compassionate Care for Rape Victims and the Healthy Youth Act, to pushing back against anti-women’s health restrictions, you have made women’s health a priority.  On Joint Finance, both in the minority and majority, you do not waiver in your efforts to ensure that women, and men, have access to critical health care. And now, in the face of losing these advances we fought so hard to secure, your advocacy continues.”

Tamara was the kind of champion who focused on moving the issues forward, in good times and bad. We grieve this deep loss with her family, friends and colleagues and honor the impact she had on us all who knew her.

Rest in peace, friend."