Lillian Corrigan, 90: civil rights activist

Lillian Corrigan was part of the Greatest Generation.

She served in the Navy during World War II, where she met her future husband Bill whom she married in 1945. They lived in Marietta, leading typical suburban lives until the ’60s when the civil rights movement began to heat up. From that point, Corrigan became a fully committed activist in peace and human rights movements around the world. Even though she was arrested twice, once while leading a prayer vigil, she never stopped working for peace.

In 1968, Corrigan marched in Washington, D.C., in the Poor People’s Campaign following the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. Her son, John Corrigan, of Marianna, Fla., said, “Mother thought the racial laws of the time were a state of sin.”

In 1991, Coretta Scott King presented Corrigan with the Peace and Justice Award at the Catholic celebration for King.

Another son, Dave Corrigan, of Acworth, recalled his mother writing letters to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in response to critical opinions expressed about the Washington march.

“She always signed her name and phone number and after some angry calls, I was told not to answer the phone for a while,” he said.

The assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero and other church leaders, along with the massacre of nearly 900 people in El Salvador during the ’80s, were major human rights tragedies in Corrigan’s eyes. The “death squads” involved had ties to the School of the Americas at Ft. Benning and Corrigan began a protest of SOA that would last the rest of her life.

Her friend Pat Kahnle said, “As a veteran of WW II, she felt she had to take a stand against the violence being taught there.”

Lillian Kamack Corrigan, 90, of Marietta, died March 14 at Gaines Park Senior Living Community after a period of declining health. Her body was donated to the Emory University School of Medicine. A private service will be held April 15.

Corrigan and her husband traveled throughout Central America in the ’80s, witnessing firsthand the violence toward and oppression of the poor. In response, Corrigan started “PJ’s for Peace and Justice,” which sewed pajamas for children throughout Central America. This project was later taken on by the Cobb Interfaith Peace Study and many pajamas have been sent to the region over the years.

Closer to home, Corrigan more recently protested the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in Marietta Square with placards that read, “Support the troops, not the policy.”

Buddhist Monk Sister Denise, a friend for 20 years, recalled, “Corrigan always had a young, curious mind and never thought she knew it all. When she moved into the senior center, instead of seeing it as an end, she saw it as an opportunity for growth and a way to enlighten more people about love, peace and nonviolence.”

In addition to sons Dave and John, Corrigan is survived by a son, Mike Corrigan, of Macon, and a daughter, Kathy Graham of Roswell.