Trailblazing politician, activist and former Los Angeles County Board Supervisor Gloria Molina has died at the age of 74, her family announced Sunday.
“It is with heavy hearts that our family announces Gloria’s passing this evening. She passed away at her home in Mt. Washington, surrounded by our family,” her daughter, Valentina Martinez, said in a statement provided to KTLA.
Molina had been battling terminal cancer for the past three years, a struggle which kept her out of the public eye. As a politician and activist, she was known as a champion for women and Latinos. Molina broke many barriers during her career, being the first Chicana elected to the California Legislature, Los Angeles City Council and the L.A. County Board of Supervisors.
City leaders, including Mayor Karen Bass released statements following Molina’s passing.
“Gloria Molina was a force for unapologetic good and transformational change in Los Angeles,” a statement from Bass read in part. “She shaped Los Angeles in a lasting way while paving the way for future generations of leaders. As the first woman Mayor of Los Angeles, I know I stand on Supervisor Molina’s shoulders.”
“On Mother’s Day of all days,” L.A. County Supervisor Lindsey P. Horvath said. “She broke countless glass ceilings & paved the way for generations of women leaders in LA County. I’ll always be grateful for the ways she made my opportunity to serve possible & how she fought for what’s right, no matter what.”
“It takes courage to be the 1st woman in the room and Gloria was the 1st woman and 1st Latina in nearly every room she was in,” Chair of the L.A. County Board of Supervisors Janice Hahn said. “She didn’t just make space for herself — she opened the door to the rest of us. Women in politics in LA County owe a debt of gratitude to Gloria Molina.”
The family said they are proud Molina will be remembered for her impact on L.A., the state and the country as a “Chicana activist.”
“For us, Gloria will be remembered in our hearts as our loving mom and grandmother, protective oldest sister, wise tía, and loyal friend. We will miss celebrating with her on Christmas Eve, hosted at her home decked out in a new theme for the holidays and nourished with handmade tamales and a holiday feast with all the trimmings,” the statement read.
Molina also founded a group of quilters known as the “East L.A. Stitchers,” who recently worked to complete all the quilts that she’d been too ill to finish herself.
“Most of all, we will miss Gloria the strong and selfless matriarch of our family. She was the first
one to call when she heard that we needed help, the first to volunteer to organize a family
celebration, and the first one to tell us what we needed to hear to get back on our feet,” the family said.
LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes announced that information on a public celebration of life featuring “a special place created and envisioned by Gloria” will be forthcoming.