Elinor Lewallen, a longtime champion of equal rights for LGBT people, and President of PFLAG National in the late 1980s, has died, the organization announced Friday. She was 93.
Lewallen was a resident of Denver, Colo., and continued to attend local PFLAG meetings long after her tenure as National President had ended. As recently as last month, she attended a meeting of PFLAG Denver, where the members there celebrated her 93rd birthday. At the event, in support of her excellent work over three decades, the Office of the Mayor of Denver proclaimed June 3, 2012 Elinor Lewallen Day.
Jean Hodges — PFLAG National Vice-President, Chairperson of the PFLAG National Regional Directors Council, and a longtime friend of Lewallen — recently spoke about the beloved leader’s accomplishments to Out Front Colorado, a Denver-based newspaper serving the LGBT community of the Rocky Mountains.
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Hodges said, “Elinor personifies the legacy of caring and support of the founders of PFLAG National. Her compassionate and consistent contributions over the years that support LGBT persons and their families have been my guiding light as I have grown into PFLAG leadership.”
PFLAG National Executive Director Jody M. Huckaby echoed Hodges sentiment, saying, “Elinor couldn’t help but fill a room with love. She understood the power of family acceptance and the need for societal affirmation, and she helped to pioneer PFLAG’s mission of support, education and advocacy as the critical path to achieving both. In getting to know her daughter Janet in this past decade, it is clear that the legacy she leaves started in her own family.”
Lewallen’s accomplishments as a civil rights leader had been previously recognized by the community. In May 2012, the Rocky Mountain Arts Association (RMAA) selected her as the recipient of the Robert Moore Community Award, recognizing Lewallen as a local and national PFLAG and civil rights icon.
Said PFLAG National President Rabbi David M. Horowitz, “So much of our of work today is possible because of pioneers and true champions like Elinor. Our hearts are heavy as we mourn her loss, and we celebrate the tremendous achievements she made throughout her life. ”
A celebration of her life will take place later this month. To learn more about those plans when they are finalized and Elinor’s place in PFLAG history, click here.