Wife of NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty dies

Published: Mar. 26, 2014 at 4:30 PM EDT|Updated: Apr. 24, 2014 at 8:52 PM EDT
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Lynda Petty (PHOTO SOURCE: WBTV Archives)
Lynda Petty (PHOTO SOURCE: WBTV Archives)

LEVEL CROSS, NC (WBTV) - The wife of NASCAR driver Richard Petty  has died, according to officials from the Richard Petty Motorsports.

According to the company's website, Lynda Gayle Owens Petty passed away peacefully at her home in Level Cross on Monday.  She was 72-years-old

Petty was "one of the first women of NASCAR and its most beloved wife, mother and friend," a statement on the website said. "Affectionately known as 'Mrs. Lynda' to so many, Lynda Petty set a standard for being a loving, supportive and, when needed, an authoritative wife and mother. She also set the benchmark for being a leader in her local community while raising a family in the fast-growing sport of stock car racing."

Petty had been fighting cancer for the past several years

"It was the same determination that led her to make a difference as a Red Cross volunteer, a school volunteer, the president of the athletic booster club and a Girl and Boy Scout leader in her lifetime, the statement continued. "She also served on the Randolph County School Board for 16 years and was on the board of the Randolph County Hospice."

WBTV spoke with Petty in 2010, her first time speaking about her cancer publicly.

"The days that I spent in the hospital at Duke were long and dark and I thought, 'will I ever be normal again'," Petty said about her time at Duke Medical Center.

Lynda was diagnosed with Lymphoma, which was affecting her brain. She had to undergo brutal chemotherapy.

At one point, she went blind, lost the ability to walk and when she went home, didn't recognize the house she'd lived in for 30 years.

"I thought, 'Lord give me strength to get through this' because I knew it was going to be the battle of my life," Petty told WBTV in 2010.

She says her prayers and prayers from fans got her through her battle.

Lynda Petty helped start the Racing Wives Auxiliary, a benevolent fund for injured members of the NASCAR community. The group was formed by the wives of drivers, crews and sponsors.

Besides her husband, Lynda Petty is survived by son Kyle, two daughters, 10 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Petty was reportedly with family when she passed away.

"We wish to sincerely thank everyone who has supported us and our family throughout the years and at this time," the family said in a statement to the public. "We will forever love and miss a wife, mother, grandmother, great grandmother and friend."

A private memorial service for family and friends will be held at Reverie Place in Randleman, North Carolina which Pastor Kenny Crosswhite will officiate.

In lieu of flowers, the family says donations can be made to the Petty Family Foundation.

A public memorial service will not be held and the family asks for privacy at this time.

"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," said Brian France, NASCAR Chairman and CEO.

"Through the years, Lynda became an integral part of the NASCAR landscape. 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."

North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory called Petty a "gracious woman" with an infectious sense of humor.

"She was the heart of the Pettys, always putting family first and giving them unconditional love as they took on the demands of competing at the highest level of racing," Governor McCrory said. "She was a great role model for North Carolina. Ann and I mourn her death and will keep her husband Richard and the entire Petty family in our thoughts and prayers."

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