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Senator Margarita López Prentice, RN

Margarita López Prentice, former state legis­lator from the 11th district, passed away quietly in her sleep of natural causes at her home in Bryn Mawr-Skyway, Washington on April 2, 2019, sitting in her favorite chair with her dog on her lap. She was 88 years old.

Origi­nally from Arizona, Prentice obtained her nursing educa­tion at St. Joseph’s Hospital School of Nursing in Phoenix. She also attended Phoenix College, Youngstown Univer­sity in Ohio and the Univer­sity of Washington.

During her nursing career, Prentice served in almost every capacity from staff nurse to director of nursing. She was always active in WSNA. As a staff nurse in the emergency room at Valley General Hospital, Prentice was active in organizing a WSNA local unit there and in negoti­ating the first contract. She served on many WSNA commit­tees and was an ANA delegate for many years. Prentice was elected and served as first vice presi­dent of WSNA from 1968 to 1972. After that office, she joined the staff of WSNA as the labor organizer and officer for WSNA. In 2002, Prentice was inducted into the Washington State Nurses Hall of Fame.

Senator Prentice was the first Latina elected to the Washington State Legis­la­ture. She was first elected to the Renton School Board in 1986 and was then was appointed to fill a vacancy the State House of Repre­sen­ta­tives in 1988 serving two terms before being elected to the State Senate in 1992. She served five terms in the State Senate, rising to Presi­dent Pro Tempore before retiring in 2013. Throughout her long tenure in the Legis­la­ture, Senator Prentice consis­tently fought for women’s health, migrant workers’ rights, LGBTQ rights and veterans’ benefits. 

Through her sponsor­ship of various health-related bills Prentice used her nursing background to make a positive impact on the health of the citizens of Washington state. She sponsored bills dealing with women’s health, advanced practice, mental health benefits, newborn infant safety, Asian medicine, acupunc­ture, health insur­ance, contra­cep­tive health services, health care financing, health care benefits for retirees, infant and child products, breast and cervical cancer, commu­nity health center facil­i­ties, prescrip­tion drug pricing, assis­tive mobility devices, children and environ­mental health, family planning services, colorectal cancer detec­tion and recog­ni­tion of National Nurses Week.

Prentice worked closely with WSNA as well as other specialty nursing associ­a­tions to sponsor bills supporting advanced practice nurses. Along with Repre­sen­ta­tive Eileen Cody in the House, Prentice was the prime sponsor of Senate Bill 6675 – Manda­tory Overtime: Dangerous Practice for Patients and Nurses. A top priority for WSNA, this bill was signed into law by Governor Gary Locke on March 22, 2002.

She became a powerful matri­arch of the Legis­la­ture, mentoring many Democ­ratic newcomers and forging bipar­tisan partner­ships to help pass legis­la­tion. In addition to serving as Presi­dent Pro Tempore of the Senate, Prentice was vice chair of the Labor and Commerce Committee, chair of the Finan­cial Insti­tu­tions & Housing Committee, and chair of the Senate Ways and Means Committee.

Prentice lived in Skyway, where she raised her four children with her husband, William Prentice Jr. Senator Prentice is survived by her three children, five grand­chil­dren, and her brother Carlos López. Her husband William Prentice Jr. and her son Carl preceded her in death. A private funeral service has been held.

A celebra­tion of life will be held on Friday May 10th at 3pm in Meeting Room B at the clubhouse restau­rant at Foster Golf Links in Tukwila, WA.

For more infor­ma­tion, please contact senatorprenticeservice@gmail.com. In lieu of flowers, those wishing to honor Senator Prentice may send donations to the Seattle Humane Society or the Pediatric Interim Care Center in Kent, WA.