WASHINGTON HEIGHTS, NY – Edith Prentiss, a legendary New York City disability attorney and a Washington Heights resident, recently passed away. She was 69 years old.
Using a wheelchair for the last 25 years of her life, Prentiss has become a leading voice in the fight for equality and accessibility for people with disabilities in the city and across the country.
“Very, very sad news that my dear friend and disability attorney Edith Prentiss passed away this weekend,” wrote Upper Manhattan friend and roommate Arlene Schulman on Facebook. “I’m heartbroken. An enormous loss.”
During her lawyer career, Prentiss served as president of the 504 Democratic Club and Disabled in Action of metropolitan New York City. She also had a longtime seat on Community Board 12.
Prentiss has been incredibly effective with their strong advocacy for disabilities. She helped install elevators at subway stations across the city, including Dyckman Street, and offered seniors free bus rides when subway elevators needed repair, and said countless in the name of stricter legislation Male disability rights.
New York City executives used social media and wrote statements on Tuesday and Wednesday to pay homage to Prentiss.
“Edith Prentiss was a strong advocate for people with disabilities and fought to ensure rights and accessibility in our communities,” wrote Congressman Adriano Espaillat on Twitter. “Edith has made a difference through her advocacy, strength and determination to make our communities better and more inclusive.”
Washington Heights native, controller and candidate for mayor, Scott Stringer also took to Twitter Wednesday morning to pay his respects to Prentiss.
“Edith Prentiss made our city a safer, more accessible place that is home to millions of New Yorkers with disabilities,” Stringer wrote. “She was a tireless lawyer who left an indelible mark on our city. Rest in power.”
Several people on social media have suggested that the MTA should name an elevated subway station after Prentiss.
“RIP to a tireless community attorney, Edith Prentiss,” Congregation member Carmen De La Rosa wrote on Twitter. “Thank you for leaving our mark on our community and city.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio released a statement Wednesday afternoon on Prentiss’s death: “I am very saddened by the death of longtime disability attorney Edith Prentiss. She was a force to be reckoned with and urged us all to do better making and making things more inclusive for New Yorkers. “
De Blasio’s statement was published together with Victor Calise, Mayor’s Commissioner for People with Disabilities.
“Edith Prentiss was a bitter lawyer who was straightforward, knowledgeable and apologetic, but also friendly and loving to everyone. Edith stood up for everyone and understood that the disability rights movement was not just for people who use wheelchairs, but for every person with every type of disability, “Calise said in a press release. “Over the years she has made her mark in New York City by increasing wheelchair accessible taxis and rental vehicles, park access programs, community board engagement, MTA affairs, celebrating disabled pride, and more. She was selfless, passionate, and loved New York City for all of its essence. Your advocacy, spirit, and impact are sorely missed. “
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