RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Funeral services are being held this weekend for the first woman to serve as North Carolina’s secretary of state.

Janice Faulkner died on Tuesday at a retirement community in Greenville at age 87. Sister-in-law Joyce Hardison said on Friday that Faulkner had been in declining health for two years.

Faulkner, a Martin County native, graduated from what is now East Carolina University and worked there for more than 35 years, as an English professor and administrator. She also became involved in politics and served as the first female executive director of the state Democratic Party in the early 1980s.

Gov. Jim Hunt appointed Faulkner to his Cabinet as revenue secretary in 1993. Three years later, Hunt named her secretary of state when Rufus Edmisten resigned, serving out the last several months of his term. This appointment also made her the first woman on the North Carolina Council of State, composed of the governor and nine other statewide elected positions.

Hunt later named Faulkner the Division of Motor Vehicles commissioner in 1997.

Faulkner’s survivors also include a niece, nephew and cousins.

Visitation was set for Friday evening at Biggs Funeral Home in Williamston, with a Saturday morning funeral at Maple Grove Christian Church in Jamesville.

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