Obituaries

Karen DeCrow, Former NOW President, Dies At 76

DeCrow served as the president of NOW for three years, and led the struggle for the Equal Rights Amendment in the 70s and 80s.

Karen DeCrow, Former NOW President, Dies At 76
Flickr / National Organization for Women
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Former National Organization for Women President Karen DeCrow has died at the age of 76 from what a friend says was melanoma. (Via Flickr / National Organization for Women)

"I think the thing to think about is where we would be without people like her. What she did changed the world." (Via WSYR)

DeCrow was an outspoken advocate for women's rights. In the late '60s, she was the first woman to attempt to win the title of mayor of Syracuse, New York, without sucess. (Via WSTM)

DeCrow's unsuccessful run for mayor came while she was still in law school. The New York Times reports she graduated with a degree in law from Syracuse University in 1972. DeCrow said she was the only woman in her graduating class.

"I went to law school to make changes on the gender issue."

DeCrow became the president of NOW in 1974. DeCrow served as the president for three years. (Via Onondaga Historical Association)

Time Warner Cable News reports she lost her position once she started fighting for equal rights for gays and lesbians because many in the organization saw her stance as too controversial.

She then moved on to be one of the key voices in support of the Equal Rights Amendment in the late '70s and early '80s — it guaranteed equality under the law for women but was never ratified. 

DeCrow faded away from the national political scene around the same time. In a 2008 interview, she told The Syracuse Post-Standard: "I am lucky enough to have been involved in a movement that really moved. But then, are we done? No, we're not done."

In 2009, DeCrow was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame. She leaves behind a sister.