First Lady Mayor, Marlene: Tribute

Mrs Marlene Jefferson, in her Mayoral robes.
Mrs Marlene Jefferson, in her Mayoral robes.

Among the first to pay tribute to the life and work of former Mayor Marlene Jefferson, was community worker Jeanette Warke.

“Marlene was one of my very first members of the Women Into Irish History group that we formed and I will always remember her as very supportive of everything that we did here in The Fountain,” she said.

First female Mayor of Derry Marlene Jefferson (1980/81) pictured alongside  Joe Fegan (SDLP), who was Mayor the following year. 'Pic: National Georgraphic Society.

First female Mayor of Derry Marlene Jefferson (1980/81) pictured alongside Joe Fegan (SDLP), who was Mayor the following year. 'Pic: National Georgraphic Society.

“We were life-long friends. I grew up only a few streets away from Marlene and anyone who knew her will know that she was such a mother figure to all in her family.

“She developed into such a powerful figure in the community and was an inspirational figure for women in the community. In later years of knowing her I got involved with her through the Shared City Education Programme and we set up the group Women Into Irish History. Marlene was one of the very first members to sign up to that group.

“I found her so knowledgeable when it came to local history, and she had a great in-put into the group.

“I think as a former Mayor she just knew so much about our city’s history and had so much to say about the city that was relevant.

As a former Mayor she just knew so much about our city’s history and had so much to say about the city that was relevant

Jeanette Warke, community worker

“Marlene owned and ran a grocers shop at the bottom of Hawlin Street, which she took over from Neillie Jarvis, and she ran that shop until she was bombed out of the premises.

“She was involved in so much here at Cathedral Youth Club; she was a great artist and took part in an arts class and enjoyed the groups and was great fun. She also took part in our computer classes and really she threw herself into whatever she was doing and was so dedicated to contributing to her community and threw herself into whatever her community had to offer.

“She was so keen to get involved in all sorts of community-based activity and I know I speak for a lot of people when I say that she will be very, very greatly missed.

On behalf of everyone at Cathedral Youth Club I extend our sincere condolences to her immediate and extended family. This is really sad news,” said Mrs Warke.

Derry's first ever female mayor, Marlene Jefferson, (far left) pictured presenting a trophy to Tristar Boys Football Club during her time as First Citizen in 1980.

Derry's first ever female mayor, Marlene Jefferson, (far left) pictured presenting a trophy to Tristar Boys Football Club during her time as First Citizen in 1980.