Friday, September 14, 2012

PFLAG National Mourns Death of Former President Elinor Lewallen

Lewallen, 93, Was a Longtime Champion of Civil Rights for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender People

WASHINGTON, DC - PFLAG National (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) - the nation's largest grassroots-based nonprofit for parents, families, friends, and straight allies of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people - today mourns the death of an early organization leader, Elinor Lewallen. Lewallen, President of PFLAG National in the late 1980s, was a longtime champion of equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people, and for over 30 years remained a passionate advocate for the cause.

Ms. Lewallen was a resident of Denver, Colorado 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 Ms. 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.

Ms. 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.”

Ms. 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 Ms. 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, visit

Founded in 1972 with the simple act of a mother publicly supporting her gay son, PFLAG is the original family and straight ally organization. Made up of parents, families, friends, and straight allies uniting with LGBT people, PFLAG is committed to advancing equality through its mission of support, education and advocacy. Now entering its 40th year, PFLAG has more than 350 chapters and 200,000 members and supporters crossing multiple generations of American families in major urban centers, small cities and rural areas in all 50 states. To learn more, please visit


Unknown said...

Rest in peace, Elinor.

Thank you for your helping hand & compassion when so many others turned away.

Condolences to her family,

Tracy in Australia

Kathleen said...

I was fortunate to get to know Elinor when I lived in CO 1996-2000, and I was even more fortunate that my parents got to meet her when they visited from Australia. That one dinner together had a profound influence on us as a family. Elinor didn't just talk the talk - she walked the walk. Through her actions, she demonstrated to parents how to accept and support their queer children. It was a turning point in my life, for which I will be eternally grateful,

Jeremy said...

Godspeed Elinor. All I can hope for now is that you left something like a philippine prudential plan to help others continue the good fight.