Contra Costa County Supervisor Gayle Uilkema, who had announced her plans to end her three-decades-long political career at the end of her term in January 2013, has passed away after a long battle with cancer.
A service in her memory will be held Thursday at 10:30 a.m. at St. Perpetua Church in Lafayette.
Uilkema, who served for 19 years as a Lafayette City Council member with four terms as mayor of that city, said earlier this year she simply felt it was time to leave office, though friends and those close to her knew she was fighting the effects of ovarian cancer.
"I've been very privileged to have public support for over 30 years, and I'm grateful to the public for their faith in me," Uilkema said at the time. "I felt that it was important to let people know so that we can have a spirited election."
Uilkema spent her last months in office focused on pet public safety projects including a mobile identification system that will allow police to identify suspects in the field and an enhanced inter-agency communication system for local police and fire departments.
Uilkema has represented the Lamorinda area for most of her supervisoral career. She is the mother of two grown daughters, one of whom is a Deputy District Attorney and the other is a family practice physician in San Diego.
Originally from Detroit, Uilkema was a vocational education major at the University of Michigan when she moved her young family to Lafayette, serving on city commissions before winning a seat on the City Council in 1978.
She was elected to the first of four terms on the board of supervisors representing District 2, which now includes Lafayette, Moraga and several other cities, as well as the Rossmoor area, in 1996. Uilkema was an outspoken supporter of the Veterans Memorial Building and Lafayette Library and Learning Center, and quietly served as lector at Moraga's St. Monica's Catholic Church and Lafayette's St. Perpetua Catholic Community.