Lillian Miles Lewis, wife of U.S. Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), died Monday at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution . She was 73.
Close friend Xernona Clayton said Lillian Lewis had been ill for an extended period of time but encouraged her husband to continue with his career.
"She'd kind of get on him about telling people she was sick," Clayton said. "She didn't want that to be the focus. She wanted him to do his work."
Funeral arrangements are pending.
President Obama called Rep. Lewis on Monday to express his condolences, the White House said.
Lewis met her future husband when he was already a civil rights legend, and she played a key role in his transition to a career in politics. Many thought the couple were a perfect match.