Lillian Lewis, the wife of Congressman John Lewis, passed away on Dec. 31, 2012.
by Phillip Lucas
Associated Press Writer
ATLANTA (AP) — Lillian Miles Lewis, wife of Democratic U.S. Rep. John Lewis, died Monday morning in Atlanta according to Brenda Jones, a spokeswoman for the congressman. She was 73.
Information on her cause of death was not immediately available.
Xernona Clayton, CEO of the Trumpet Awards Foundation Inc. — which recognizes the accomplishments of African Americans — considered Lillian Lewis her best friend and said she recently struggled with a cold. Lewis was hospitalized Sunday night because of a persistent cough, she said.
Clayton recalled meeting Lewis — then Lillian Miles — shortly after the two moved to Atlanta from Los Angeles in 1963. The women shared a passion for the arts and civil rights, and bonded over the work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
“She knew every word of every speech that he made,” Clayton said, “I was impressed with her intellect; she was well traveled. She lived in Europe and Africa and was knowledgeable about the world. She knew about art, about literature. She was invigorating to be around.”
Lewis moved to the city to take a job at Atlanta University — now known as Clark Atlanta University — and was a member of the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church, Clayton said. She introduced Lillian to John Lewis at a New Year’s Eve dinner party in 1967 and the two were married in 1968. The two have a son, John Miles.
“I just marvel in the fact that I had something at all to do with putting two people together who had a genuine love for each other,” Clayton said. “Somehow I just knew that they would gel because she was soft-spoken, she was kind, she was gentle,” Clayton said, adding that Lewis was also clever and quietly assertive.