LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Gloria Molina, who served Southern California for decades in elected roles including Los Angeles City Council member and county supervisor, has died at 74, her family announced Sunday.
Molina had been battling terminal cancer for the last three years and died at home in Mt. Washington surrounded by family, her daughter said.
"She faced this fight with the same courage and resilience she lived her life," her daughter, Valentina Martinez, wrote in a family statement. "Over the last few weeks, Gloria was uplifted by the love and support of our family, community, friends, and colleagues. Gloria expressed deep gratitude for the life she lived and the opportunity to serve our community."
The longtime Democrat served in the California state Assembly for five years in the 1980s, then went on to win election to the Los Angeles City Council in 1986, representing a district that included East Los Angeles and parts of the San Fernando Valley. In 1990, Molina won a seat on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors and stayed through 2014, finally retiring after term limits were enacted.
She made history in several of those roles, becoming the first Latina to serve on the LA City Council and then the Board of Supervisors.
Molina was born in Montebello on May 31, 1948, the daughter of a Mexican mother and Mexican-American father. She grew up in Pico-Rivera as the oldest of 10 children.
During the 1970s, she became involved in the Chicano political movement, especially advocating for women's health. She would serve two years in President Jimmy Carter's White House, as a deputy for presidential personnel.
As a supervisor, Molina led efforts to eliminate many perks for county bureaucrats, advocated for safer communities and championed open spaces.
She spearheaded the project to establish Grand Park in downtown Los Angeles. Last month, not long after she acknowledged her cancer had become "very aggressive," the 12-acre park was renamed in her honor.
"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," county supervisor Janice Hahn tweeted. "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."
Supervisor Hilda Solis wrote: "I am heartbroken to lose a champion for Latinos, for mujeres, and for the Eastside. While she may no longer be physically with us, we will forever feel her impact. My prayers are with her loved ones during this heartbreaking time. May her soul Rest In Peace."