Evelyn Lowery, a pioneer in civil rights and women's empowerment and the wife of the Rev. Joseph Lowery, died Thursday at her home in Georgia, a family spokeswoman said. Family spokeswoman Diane Larche said the 88-year-old Lowery died Thursday morning.

She had been hospitalized since Sept. 18 after suffering a severe stroke and returned home on Wednesday night, after medical experts said the stroke had caused irreversible damage.

"My beloved Evelyn was a special woman, whose life was committed to service, especially around the issues of empowering women. She was a wonderful mother and wife and I thank God that she didn't suffer any pain and that I was blessed having her as my partner, my confidant and my best friend for close to 70 years," Joseph Lowery, a past president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, said Thursday in a family statement.

Read it at USA Today.