Former CT State Senator Edith Prague dies at 96

HARTFORD — Edith Prague, a veteran former state legislator from eastern Connecticut who twice served as the state Department’s commissioner of aging, has died at age 96, officials said.

A reliable Liberal who served as co-chair of the legislative labor commissionPrague, from the city of Columbia, served in the Senate from 1995 to 2013, following four terms in the state House of Representatives.

“We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of our dear friend and former colleague Edith Prague,” Senate Pro Tempore Speaker Martin Looney, D-New Haven, said in a joint statement with Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff, of Norwalk.

“To say Edith Prague was energetic, determined, principled and loyal would be a gross understatement,” Duff and Looney said. “During her tenure in the General Assembly, she was a fierce fighter in her defense of workers, the elderly and her constituents. If you found yourself allied with her on a matter of passion, you were in luck. If you were on the other side of her, you knew you were going to fight. But with his passion came a deep empathy and respect for others.

Duff and Looney said Prague “often served as a guide and voice of conscience for the Senate Democratic caucus.”

“Edith Prague was a treasure of state, she was a staunch activist for workers and seniors, and the positive impact of the public policies Edith championed and enacted will be felt in Connecticut for decades,” said said the state senator. Cathy Osten, who now represents this district.

Tom Swan, executive director of the Connecticut Citizen Action Group, remembers helping Prague during the 1994 primary campaign that propelled her to the Senate, where she often teamed up with the late Sen. Edwin A. Gomes of Bridgeport , a retired metalworkers union representative. , in pursuit of progressive legislation.

“Edith definitely made a difference and didn’t care what other people thought of her,” Swan said Thursday. She drove so many people crazy, it was beautiful. I loved Edith. She was a true champion of workers, and she and Ed Gomes were one hell of a team.

“Edith Prague is the jewel of eastern Connecticut,” Gov. Ned Lamont said in a noon statement. “She is a legend, whose fiery and caring personality will never be forgotten. She was as compassionate as she was daring and throughout her life she had an energy that was simply contagious.

Lieutenant Governor Susan Bysiewicz, who served with Prague in the Legislative Assembly, remembered her as a “powerful voice for workers,” who continued to support workers on the picket line until at his 90th birthday. “As commissioner of the Department on Aging, she was not afraid to speak truth to power, regardless of the consequences. Simply put, she was a model public servant.

According to Ballot, Prague earned a degree in education in 1965 from Eastern Connecticut State University in 1965 and earned a master’s degree in social work from UConn 10 years later. Prior to her election to the state House of Representatives in 1982, she served on the Columbia School Board.

She was a widow and had four children.

The predominantly rural senatorial district of Prague included the towns of Franklin, Hebron, Lebanon, Ledyard, Lisbon, Marlborough, Montville, Norwich and Sprague. Prague suffered a stroke in late 2011 but returned to the Senate in time for the start of the 2012 legislative session. Twitter: @KenDixonCT

Berta D. Wells