Legendary Playwright and Columnist Dolores Prida Dies

We lost one of the great ones today. 

Dolores Prida, legendary playwright, columnist and Latina trailblazer, died this morning at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City.

The author of Latina's "Dolores Dice" column, and one of the founding members of the magazine, Dolores was a part of our Latina family and our hearts are heavy this morning as we report the news of her passing. 

“In many ways, Dolores was the heart and soul of the magazine,” said Damarys Ocaña Perez, Latina’s executive editor. “She loved helping Latinas understand their self-worth and potential whether it was through her column’s combination of witty and wise advice or by helping those of us putting together each magazine issue stay true to our mission of celebrating Latina life and accomplishments. She was an irreplaceable mentor and friend," she said, adding that Prida received hundreds of letters a month and readers mentioned time and again "how Dolores Dice was the first feature they turned to each month."

Last night, hours before she passed away, Prida attended a party for a group called LIPS -- a journalism and advocacy group for Latinas that had been meeting for 20 years.

Because the group was celebrating its 20th Anniversary -- and because she had attended a few of the group's meetings and had friends in the group -- Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor also attended the party, which was being held at the home of journalist and editor Maite Junco, the former editor of The New York Daily News' VIVA New York section. 

"I saw Dolores, a long time friend, the night before she died," Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor said in an email to the women who attended the event -- a group of journalists, lawyers, writers and other Latina profiessionals."As always, she was filled with life and plans for the engaging work she was involved in. Dolores was a visionary. As a writer she inspired us to think deeply about our culture. She will be missed."

When we heard the news about Dolores, we called up Maite Junco, who in addition to being a member of the group and hosting the party, was also a close personal friend of Prida's for many years. Her heart was heavy as she told us a little bit about Dolores' final hours.

"Dolores wanted there to be music {at the party}," Junco explained. "There was a trio of music. I danced with Dolores. She said, "hace años que no bailaba" {it's been years since I've danced}."

"We live three blocks apart," added Junco. "And she went home and on the way home, she didn't feel good, so she called her sister and they took her to Mount Sinai. it's not known if she died of a heart attack or stroke. The family has requested an autopsy," she said. 

One of the questions many people have asked after Dolores' passing is if she had any major health issues. "Dolores had diabetes," Junco said. "And she was a smoker, but she had good health. I don't remember her saying she had any heart problems," she said. 

Junco added that Dolores "looked particularly good yesterday," and said that Dolores even announced, "I'm going to be turning 70 this year."

Asked what she thinks Dolores' legacy will be, Junco said: "I think Dolores was ahead of us in knowing the Latino community and its full potential in the United States," she said. "Now people are reporting on us like its the newfound Latinos, but Dolores was already writing about it and pushing for our seat at the table. She had a very smart and very analytical mind. It's a great loss for Latinos today."

Junco has lost one of her dearest friends. "I knew her for 25 years," she said. "She was funny, she had a sense of humor," she explained. 

Dolores was born the oldest of three children in Caibarién, on the northern coast of Cuba. Soon after the 1959 revolution her father fled to the US in a boat, and two years later the family followed. Dolores is survived by two sisters, Lourdes and Maria. She was 69.