Lula Gray Crenshaw died at a hospice at age 64. She discovered early this year that she had lung cancer and a brain tumor, longtime friends said.
Ms. Crenshaw, a past chairwoman of the Cumberland County Democratic Party, served on numerous boards, including those of Fayetteville Technical Community College, the Fayetteville State University Foundation and the fundraising arm for the N.C. Legislative Black Caucus. She was a past chairwoman of the Cumberland County Alcoholic Beverage Control board.
Ms. Crenshaw and Cumberland County Commissioner Jeannette Council were friends for more than 50 years. Both grew up in Sampson County.
“She loved her family, her community and this county,” Mrs. Council said. “She was always willing to help others.”
Ms. Crenshaw is best known for her stalwart efforts to honor the slain civil rights leader. She organized an annual downtown parade and a candlelight vigil at the King park, which is off Bragg Boulevard, and she raised public and private donations for a King statue at the park that was dedicated in January 2007. “She made a significant impact in this community and across the state,” said friend Floyd Shorter, director of FSU’s Fayetteville Business Center. Ms. Crenshaw is survived by a son, Harlan Crenshaw, who is a Durham police officer. Harlan is her pride and joy,” Mr. Shorter said. Another close friend, former state Rep. Mary McAllister, said Ms. Crenshaw didn’t speak much in her final days. Mrs. McAllister last saw her Monday. “I told her that I love her,” Mrs. McAllister said. “She was in pain.” Ms. Crenshaw graduated from FSU in 1969 with a bachelor’s degree in sociology and a minor in history. She retired in 2009 as a program compliance consultant for the N.C. Division of Social Services. Last year, Ms. Crenshaw ran for Larry Shaw’s former state Senate seat but lost in the primary. It was a bitter disappointment for her, friends said. Ms. Crenshaw could be unrelenting at times, whether advocating for black public employees or defending plans for the King park, friends say.
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