Montgomery Council Member Praisner Dies
Marilyn Praisner, known for her deep understanding of government during her 17 years on the Montgomery County Council, died this morning after undergoing heart valve replacement surgery at Suburban Hospital in Bethesda.
Praisner (D-East County), 66, recently ended a term as president of the council, spending much of the time working on a new growth policy for Montgomery. She was the longest serving woman on the county council.
Praisner had surgery on Wednesday, after putting in a full day on Tuesday at the council. She was alert and resting yesterday, said council spokesman Neil Greenberger.
But she "took a turn for the worse," he said. No cause of death was given and funeral arrangements are incomplete.
Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett (D), a good friend of Praisner and a longtime supporter and political colleague, issued a statement today mourning her death.
"Nobody in Montgomery County government ever worked harder, knew more, or cared more than Marilyn Praisner. Whether serving her country in the Central Intelligence Agency, looking out for our kids as a School Board member, or laboring tirelessly to make a good County better in her 18 years on the Council, Marilyn brought to whatever task at hand a keen intellect, a big heart, and a passionate devotion to public service. ''
Praisner was involved in two back-to-back car accidents on Nov. 16 and was hospitalized for two weeks. At that time, doctors determined she needed a heart valve replaced, which she did not discuss publicly. She returned to work in early January before the surgery. On Tuesday, she attended the council's public sessions and was at her desk until late in the day.
Before entering politics, Praisner worked at the Central Intelligence Agency for 16 years, serving as an intelligence analyst, branch chief and staff member of the deputy director of intelligence.
Praisner was a PTA activist and served on the Montgomery County Board of Education from 1982 to 1990. She served twice as board president and was then elected to the County Council in 1990. She was council president in 1993, 1997 and 2007.
During her current term, she chaired the Council's Planning, Housing and Economic Development Committee and served on its Management and Fiscal Policy Committee, which she had chaired in her previous four terms.
She was married to Donald E. Praisner; they had three grown children.
"It is a huge void," said council member Phil Andrews (D-Gaithersburg-Rockville). "She was by far the longest serving member of the council and the hardest working person I've ever met. I think one thing hard to overemphasize is the impact this has on a small legislative body. Marilyn Praisner made a huge difference."
Andrews said her acumen on financial matters will be missed. "Marilyn had an encyclopedic knowledge of the budget," he said. "That will be felt as we go through the remainder of this council's term."
Gov. Martin O'Malley said, "For over 20 years, Marilyn Praisner dedicated herself to improving the quality of life for the people of Montgomery County. Her steadfast devotion to our children at the local, state, and national level was an inspiration to us all. My prayers are with her family and friends, the Citizens of Montgomery County, and our entire State at this time of great sadness. I join with them to mourn the loss of such a dynamic woman and my friend Marilyn Praisner."
Washington Post staff writer Ernesto LondoÃ±o contributed to this report.
From Labor Secretary Tom Perez, a former council colleague:
Attached please find a statement from Secretary Thomas E. Perez regarding the passing of Councilwoman Marilyn Praisner.
Today is a sad day for all Marylanders, as we have lost one of our most dedicated and effective public servants. Marilyn Praisner was a transformational figure in Montgomery County. In her 25 years of county service on the Board of Education and the County Council, nobody worked harder than Marilyn Praisner, and nobody fought harder for her constituents than Marilyn Praisner. Her intelligence, work ethic, accessibility and concern for the underdog were the hallmarks of her tenure. In her professional career with the federal government, and in her public service in Montgomery County, she shattered glass ceilings and set a tone of civility and competence. Marilyn Praisner was elected to office by the voters of District four, but she represented and spoke for all vulnerable people in Montgomery County.
On sad days like today, there is tendency to ask: "how did she die." I prefer to reflect on a different question: "how did she live." Marilyn Praisner lived a life of selfless dedication to her community and family. She embodied the best of public service. Our community is far better off because of Marilyn Praisner. A dedicated wife, mother, grandmother and public servant, Marilyn Praisner was my seatmate and my soul-mate on the County Council. As we mourn her premature passing; we should take solace in knowing that her spirit endures, and we should recommit ourselves to following her example of professionalism, accessibility and commitment to equal opportunity for everyone.
Albert R. Wynn (MD-4) issued the following statement:
"Montgomery County and the entire State of Maryland have lost an outstanding leader today with the passing of Councilmember Praisner. Her dedication and commitment to the work of politics and policy are unrivaled. Her keen grasp of technology and telecommunications issues and the need to protect the consumers' interest will be sorely missed. Our thoughts and prayers go out to her husband Donald and the rest of her family during this rough time."
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