Lillian Lewis, wife of Rep. John Lewis, remembered - Los Angeles News | FOX 11 LA KTTV

Lillian Lewis, wife of Rep. John Lewis, remembered

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Lillian Lewis, the wife of Congressman John Lewis, passed away on Dec. 31, 2012. Lillian Lewis, the wife of Congressman John Lewis, passed away on Dec. 31, 2012.

Family and friends are fondly remembering the life of Congressman's John Lewis' wife. Lillian Lewis died Monday at Emory Hospital in Atlanta.

Although she stayed mostly out of the public eye, Lillian Lewis supported and advised her husband for more than four decades.

Xernona Clayton says she and Lillian Lewis were best friends for nearly 50 years.  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. introduced the two Los Angeles natives, who were both passionate about the civil rights movement
in the South.

"She knew music. She knew art. She knew literature. She knew places and things. She was well-traveled, well versed, knowledgeable about so many things. And unimpressed with her knowledge. A lot of people want flaunt it…Lillian never did that," said Clayton.

It was that intellect and humility that compelled Xernona Clayton to introduce her friend Lillian Miles to a civil rights activist named John Lewis on New Year's Eve in 1967. By the end of 1968, the two were married.

"Lillian said, ‘I do and I will,' and she did," said Clayton.
Clayton says Mrs. Lewis was active and supportive of Lewis' role in the civil rights movement and was a close advisor in his political career and his historic election to Congress.

"Although she was not a public person, her commitment was to him, not to what she did or did not want. So she gave it her all. She would always do the whispering kind of things, ‘Why don't you do this, why don't you call that person?  why don't you secure the telephone from this person.' That is the way she would counsel him and give him the benefit of her thinking," said Clayton.

Clayton says Lillian Lewis should be remembered for her active in the movement for civil rights in Georgia and throughout the southeast.

"She knew every speech she ever heard of Martin Luther King's. She knew his speeches word for word.," said Clayton. "We were all born into this world. And so many people occupy space. And that is it. Lillian came into this world and she made a difference in her space, so many wonderful memories. My good friend is gone but the memories will stay."

Lillian Lewis also leaves behind quite a legacy at Clark Atlanta University. From 1984 to 2003, she served in a number of roles focusing on international affairs and student development.

Clayton says Lewis' many trips to Africa and the Caribbean broadened Lewis' ability to guide her students into careers in service -- something she was deeply committed to.

Lillian Lewis was 73 years old. Funeral arrangements have not been announced.

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