Karen DeCrow, supporter of women’s rights and gender equality, died on Friday in her home in Jamesville, New York. She was 76 years old. According to Rowena Malamud, DeCrow’s longtime friend, the women’s rights activist died from melanoma.
DeCrow’s friends described her as the “perfect model” for women’s rights movement. DeCrow was the President of the National Organization for Women (NOW) from 1974 to 1977.
Huffington Post reports that DeCrow went to big corporations and the government agencies in order to urge them to hire more women. She also called on the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to investigate gender discrimination issues.
In an interview, Malamud said, “Together, with a lot of other people, we helped to change history.”
Syracuse, New York Supreme Court Justice Deborah H. Karalunas said “She dreamed of a world where the gender of a baby would have little or no relevance to the future pursuits of pleasure of that person. And she dedicated her life to that.”
Karen DeCrow, born Karen Lipschultz, earned a journalism degree from the Northwestern University. She also enrolled at the University College of Law in her 30’s and was the only female in her class, according to Syracuse.
In 1969, DeCrow ran for mayor in Syracuse where she became the first female mayoral candidate in New York.
According to Malamud, DeCrow never use a computer. She wrote everything by hand and used a typewriter for longer pieces that she needed to write. When she needed to research on a topic, DeCrow would employ one of her law students to do it for her on the computer.
After her presidency at NOW, DeCrow continued what she had started by representing women in gender discrimination issues. She also started to write a newspaper column.
Betty Bone Schiess, one of the first women ordained as an Episcopal priest in 1974, said that it was the encouragement of DeCrow that made her pursue ordination. “It was all because of Karen. She realized then it was a very important issue for all religions, not just for the Episcopal Church,” Schiess said.
Syracuse’s Mayor, Stephanie Miner, said that it was DeCrow who helped her become Syracuse’s first female mayor. “Never did Karen think why something couldn’t be done. She stood up and was the change she sought to bring to our community. Her perseverance, dedication, and strong work ethic made a major difference in our community and across the country,” Miner said.
In 2009, Karen DeCrow was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame for her contributions and support for gender rights.
[Images via Huffington Post / NBC News]