The funeral for Lillian Miles Lewis, the wife of U.S. Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), will be held at 11 a.m. Monday, Jan. 7, at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta.
Mrs. Lewis, 73, died on Dec. 31 at Emory University Hospital. She and Rep. Lewis, whose 5th District includes Decatur and most of the city of Atlanta, had been married 44 years.
According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution (AJC), which published a full-length article and obituary, the cause of Mrs. Lewis' death has not been released. The newspaper also reported that President Obama has called Rep. Lewis to express his condolences.
Many thought the couple were a perfect match.
"She was a feisty lady," Temi Silver, an event planner and longtime friend, was quoted as saying in the AJC. "He was so sweet and gentle; he needed her to take care of his back. And she was the one to do it."
The article went on to state that, Lillian Lewis, whose father owned a small contracting business, attended Los Angeles High School with the late Johnny Cochran and received an undergraduate degree in English from then-California State College at Los Angeles and a master's degree in library science at the University of Southern California.
She developed a lifelong interest in Africa when she taught in a student program in Nigeria in 1960, returning later as a Peace Corps volunteer to teach for two years in Yaba, Nigeria. It was after taking a job as a librarian at Atlanta University that she met her husband at a 1967 New Year's Eve party at the home of Clayton, a television personality and civil rights activist. Clayton and another movement veteran, Dr. Bernard LaFayette, played matchmaker.
"I figured he needed a partner like Lillian, and Lillian needed someone who was moving into such important areas," Clayton said. "She was a sober-minded, level-headed intellectual."
The AJC further reported that while Lewis forged his political career, his wife continued her career as an educator with an international perspective. She was associate director of the Institute for International Affairs and Development at Atlanta University from 1984 to 1989, a job that called on her to help develop a major in international studies, with an emphasis in Africa and the Caribbean. In a 1984 Atlanta Journal-Constitution story, she called the assignment "the moment I've been waiting for." From 1989 to 2003, she was director of external affairs in the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs at Clark Atlanta University.
Mrs. Lewis is survived by her husband and her son, John-Miles Lewis.
(Sources: Patch.com,Altanta Journal Constitution)