CHICAGO (AP/CBS) — The first African American to serve on the Illinois Supreme Court has died at 86.

A statement from the state’s high court said Charles E. Freeman died on Monday, though it didn’t specify a cause of death.

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Current Chief Justice Anne M. Burke heralded Freeman as someone with a sharp legal mind who broke down barriers throughout his life. She calls him a “trailblazer” who was also a “gentleman” who never had an unkind word to say about anyone.

Freeman was also the first African American to become chief justice on the court. He won election to the open seat in 1990 and retired in 2018.

According to a news release by the Illinois Supreme Court, Freeman “expressed pride in having increased the number of African Americans and Jews on the bench, appointing 11 African Americans and nine Jews.”

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Freeman is survived by his son, Kevin Freeman, two grandchildren an a brother in Virginia. A memorial service hosted in Chicago by the Illinois Supreme Court will be announced at a later date.