Mary Gaspar Prahinski, 83, a research physiologist who became a Democratic Party activist in the District, died March 13 at Suburban Hospital in Bethesda. She had pneumonia and complications from Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.

Mrs. Prahinski worked as a research physiologist in the 1950s and 1960s at the medical schools of Georgetown and Howard universities, and she also worked in heart research at the National Institutes of Health.

She was active in Democratic Party politics at the national and local levels and mounted an unsuccessful bid for the D.C. City Council in 1979. She was a past vice president of the D.C. government’s State Health Coordinating Committee and was a member of many civic planning and advisory committees in the District.

Mary Gaspar was born in Czechoslovakia and left the country with her family in 1938 to escape the Nazi occupation. She completed high school in Pittsburgh, where she also graduated from what is now Carlow University.

She was a founding member of what is now St. Gregory of Nyssa Byzantine Catholic Church in Beltsville and was a member of the Catholic Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Washington. She was a past school board president of Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic School in Bethesda.

Her husband of 25 years, Ted Prahinski, died in 1987. Survivors include three children, Mary C. Prahinski and Susan E. Prahinski, both of Washington, and John R. Prahinski of Lynchburg, Va.; and a grandson.

— Adam Bernstein