Former Connecticut state Sen. Edith Prague dies at age 96

Avid observers of politics in Connecticut were saddened to learn of the passing of liberal former lawmaker Edith Prague, who served in both the state House and Senate, and died Thursday at the age of 96, according to the Hartford Courant.

Prague was known for her outspoken nature and aggressive advocacy, particularly for the state’s aging residents, and she achieved distinction as one of the oldest commissioners in the history of Connecticut, overseeing matters such as Medicare, Medicaid, assisted living, nursing homes and Social Security for senior citizens.

Notably, Prague’s career included her hiring, firing, and subsequent re-hiring for the same role – that of Department on Aging commissioner – over a period that spanned two decades.

In 1993, Prague was dismissed from the position by then-Gov. Lowell P. Weicker for declining his demand to slash the agency’s budget, only to accept an offer from then-Gov. Dannel Mallow in 2012 to ascend to the top job at the department once more after having departed the state legislature due to the rigors of campaigning following some health concerns.

Following her initial firing from the commission, Prague ran for the state Senate in 1994, beating a four-term incumbent in a Democrat primary contest before winning the seat in November of that year.

Upon her passing, the Democratic Party in Connecticut declared Prague “a giant in CT politics” and said that “her passing marks the end of an era.”

Cathy Osten, a Democrat who won the state Senate seat previously occupied by Prague in 2012, paid tribute to her predecessor by saying, “If you were to start from scratch and build from the ground up and advocate for senior citizens, you would come up with Edith Prague – or her clone,” according to the Courant.

Liberal U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) added his thoughts on the death of Prague, noting, “Her life was incomparable, a consummate public servant, working tirelessly for causes of justice and equity well into her 80s,” adding, “She was a model and mentor for me and so many, and I was grateful to count her as a friend.”

According to Prague’s obituary, she passed away “surrounded by love,” was predeceased by her husband, Frank, as well as a daughter, and leaves to cherish her memory three daughters and nine grandchildren.