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.

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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.