Evelyn Lowery dies after suffering stroke

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ATLANTA, Ga. - Family, friends and the community are remembering the life and legacy of Evelyn Lowery.

The 88-year-old civil rights activist and wife of Joseph Lowery, Evelyn Lowery died this morning at their Atlanta home.

The condition of Evelyn was critical since she suffered a stroke one week ago. Her family thought she'd be more comfortable at home, and brought her back from the hospital on Wednesday.

Longtime family friend David Stokes confirmed to Channel 2 she passed away this morning.

Channel 2's Carol Sbarge spoke to Elisabeth Omilami, the executive director of Hosea Feed the Hungry and Homeless, about the impact Evelyn Lowery has made on her life.

Omilami, daughter of civil rights activist Hosea Williams, said Lowery's family is thankful to the public for their thoughts and prayers.

Evelyn founded SCLC/WOMEN Inc. in 1979. The group works to empower women, girls and families. She also created the Drum Major for Justice Awards, held annually in April in Atlanta.

"As a woman and warrior in the non-violent struggle for justice, Mrs. Evelyn Lowery boldly confronted the challenges of racism and sexism, never flinching, never failing in her commitment to the best in the American spirit," said the Rev. Raphael Warnock, senior pastor of Atlanta's Ebenezer Baptist Church, where Martin Luther King, Jr. and his father once preached.

The family said the massive stroke caused irreversible damage to 85-year-old Evelyn Lowery.

Omilami said she really got to know her when she passionately led college students on bus tours of key civil rights locations.

"And I found it so fascinating because no one else was doing it, and of course no one else knew the stories from the inside out the way she did," Omilami said.

Omilami said every year Evelyn Lowery would feed senior citizens a holiday meal. She last saw Evelyn Lowery during the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. She said Lowery has had a great impact on her life with her quiet stature and accomplishments.

Omilami said she had recently told Evelyn Lowery that she'd like to learn about what she teaches on the civil rights tours so she could carry on that tradition.

The Lowery family released the following statement Thursday morning:

"In the early hours of the morning, surrounded by her family and husband of close to 70 years, Mrs. Evelyn Gibson Lowery made her transition in the comforts of her home.  Having suffered irreversible damages after experiencing a severe stroke on last Wednesday evening, Mrs. Lowery returned home on last evening, having been under the constant care of medical experts at a local Atlanta hospital.  After having received guidance from the medical experts that there was nothing more medically that they could do, the Lowery family returned their beloved Evelyn home to peacefully rest around those she loved.

“My beloved Evelyn was a special woman, whose life was committed to service, especially around the issues of empowering women.  She was a wonderful mother and wife and I thank God that she didn’t suffer any pain and that I was blessed having her as my partner, my confidant and my best friend for close to 70 years.  I will miss her each and every day, but as a man of faith, I know that she is with her God,” stated Rev. Lowery.  “My entire family has been overwhelmed by the continuous outpourings of love, support and prayers that have come from across the country and we ask for your continued prayers over the next few days.”

Mrs. Lowery was the founder of S.C.L.C. Women, Inc. the sister organization to the historic civil rights organization, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and the creator of the annual Drum Major of Justice Awards that is held annually in April in Atlanta, GA.  Funeral announcements are yet to be announced."

Prominent leaders have released statement's on Evelyn's passing. Read them HERE.

The funeral for Lowery will be at 11 a.m. Wednesday at Morehouse College's Martin Luther King, Jr. International Chapel. A public viewing will be held Monday at Atlanta City Hall at 9 a.m. The celebration begins promptly at 11 a.m.