Anne Nicol Gaylor, the outspoken founder of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, died June 14 at a hospice in Fitchburg, Wis. She was 88.
The cause was complications from a fall on May 30, according to an announcement by the foundation, which is based in Madison, Wis.
Mrs. Gaylor co-founded the atheist and agnostic awareness group in 1976 along with her daughter, Annie Laurie Gaylor. The elder Mrs. Gaylor served as president until 2004.
The group has grown to be the largest of its kind in the country, frequently filing lawsuits defending the separation of church and state. The group puts up a display each holiday season in the Wisconsin state capitol celebrating atheism.
Mrs. Gaylor also co-founded the Women’s Medical Fund, an abortion-rights charity that assists women who are seeking abortions and cannot afford to pay the entire cost. The group has helped more than 20,000 Wisconsin women, according to its Web site. Mrs. Gaylor was the author of the 1975 book “Abortion Is a Blessing.”
Lucie Anne Nicol was born in Tomah, Wis., on Nov. 25, 1926, and was a 1949 English graduate of the University of Wisconsin at Madison.
Her husband of 61 years, Paul J. Gaylor, died in 2011. Survivors include four children, Andrew, Ian, Annie Laurie and Jamie; a brother; and two granddaughters.
Her daughter said Mrs. Gaylor’s tombstone will read “Feminist — activist — freethinker.”
“She knew that when she died, she died. That’s it. It wasn’t passing,” Annie Laurie Gaylor said. “She would read this quote from Bertrand Russell that said, ‘When I die I shall rot.’ And she said that makes life more precious.”
— From staff and wire reports