Former Oxford Lord Mayor Maureen Christian, who has died aged 82, was a champion of social justice – and her adopted home city.

Born in Seaham, County Durham, she and her family were bombed out in the Second World War and moved to Scarborough where she met her future husband Jack.

They married in July 1949, after Maureen graduated in English from Durham University. After they moved to Oxford, she taught English for many years at various schools.

The couple had three children – Louise, John and Timothy, who predeceased her in 1999.

Jack became a distinguished scientist, a Fellow of St Edmund Hall and Professor of Materials Science at Oxford University, and much of Maureen's early life was spent supporting him. One of his students recalled: “Maureen was always the life of the party, talking about everything and anyone.”

Between 1962 and 1963, the family lived in Cleveland, Ohio, while Jack was on sabbatical.

Horrified by the racism of the time, she initially joined the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People, but spurred on by a friend, decided it was too wishy washy and joined Black Power. Days before her death, she was able to watch Barack Obama's inauguration on TV.

In 1987, she was elected Labour city councillor for Marston, becoming Lord Mayor in 2000.

Jack, who was immensely proud of Maureen's political achievements and enjoyed being Lord Mayor’s Escort, died suddenly during her year of office.

When people remarked about her support for Jack, who suffered from Parkinson’s Disease, Maureen said: “People say that, but it has been nothing as compared with his support for me.”

Maureen held the portfolio for culture during her time on the council and was involved with many Oxford organisations for the arts, including the Oxford Playhouse and Oxford Philomusica.

She continued to work as an active councillor for the Northway ward right up to her last admission to hospital on January 22.

Tributes to her work for the city poured in after her death was announced at the weekend.

Oxford East MP Andrew Smith said she cared “passionately” about it.

He added: “The Labour Party will miss her, Oxford will miss her, and Northway has lost a doughty champion and good friend.”

A commemoration of her life will be held at New College, Oxford, on Saturday, February 14, at 2.30pm, where everyone is welcome.