Lynda Petty, the wife of racing legend Richard Petty and often referred to as the "First Lady of NASCAR," died Tuesday. She was 72.
The devoted wife and mother of four reportedly succumbed to central nervous system lymphoma, after having battled the debilitating disease for more than four years.
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Citing a release from Richard Petty Motorsports, SportsNetwork.com reported that Lynda died at her home in Level Cross, N.C.
, surrounded by her family.
"It was no secret that she was the cornerstone of the Petty family; a woman of humility and extraordinary strength," Austin Petty, Lynda and Richard's grandson, said in a statement.
"While we mourn her death, we also celebrate her life and the profound impact she had on those who knew her," Petty added.
The couple married in 1959 and over the past 55 years Lynda played a significant role in her husband's racing career, while leaving her imprint on the sport as a whole.
In addition to raising the couple's four children, and frequently providing meals for Petty's pit crew since the early 1960s, Lynda helped start the Racing Wives Auxiliary – a benevolent fund for injured members of the NASCAR community, the Associated Press reported
Lynda was also committed to her community, having served as the president of the local athletic booster club in her North Carolina town, as well as being a Red Cross volunteer, school volunteer, and a Girl and Boy Scout leader over the years, SportsNetwork.com noted.
"On behalf of the France Family and everyone at NASCAR, I want to offer sincere condolences to the Petty Family regarding the loss of their beloved matriarch, Lynda Petty," NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France said in a statement. "Through the years, Lynda became an integral part of the NASCAR family. We have lost a true friend, who will be missed each and every day. Our thoughts and prayers will be with the Pettys throughout this difficult time."
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