Connecticut aging commissioner a reluctant retiree at 88

By Richard Weizel

By Richard Weizel

MILFORD Conn. (Reuters) - At age 88, Edith Prague brought real-world experience to her job as commissioner of Connecticut's Department on Aging, but when urged by her doctor to consider cutting back her schedule she reluctantly decided to retire.

Prague, one of the state's oldest employees who is believed by state officials to be the nation's oldest commissioner on aging, on Thursday said this week would be her last at an agency she long fought for.

"With the growing senior and aging population, the commissioner's job is full-time," Prague said in a phone interview. She noted she had made a full recovery after suffering a couple of minor strokes this winter, but realized it was time to follow her doctor's advice.

"I guess it was either die or retire, and I chose to retire, however reluctantly," she said. "Now I just have to find something I love to do as much."

Prague was first appointed to the job in 1990 by then-Governor Lowell Weicker but was fired a few years later after she refused to cut her agency's budget and merge it into the larger Department of Social Services during a state financial crisis.

Weicker got his way, but Prague also carried on in politics and won a seat in the state senate which she held for 18 years until a new governor, Dannel Malloy last year re-established the department and brought Prague back to run it.

"She served with honor and compassion, and brought tremendous energy to the job," said Andrew Doba, a spokesman for Malloy. "Her passion for advocacy on behalf of Connecticut's seniors served this administration and the state immeasurably well."

(Editing by Scott Malone and Gunna Dickson)