Richard Petty's wife, Lynda, dies at age 72

Randleman, NC ( - Lynda Petty, the wife of NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty, a seven-time champion in the sport, passed away on Tuesday after battling cancer for several years. She was 72.

According to a release from Richard Petty Motorsports, Lynda Petty died at her home in Level Cross, N.C. She was surrounded by her family. A private memorial service for family and friends will be held in Randleman at a date and time which will be determined later.

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

Known as the "First Lady of NASCAR," Lynda Petty helped start the Racing Wives Auxiliary and will always be remembered as the wife to Richard Petty, who she married in 1958. Lynda was a leader in her local community as well. She served as a Red Cross volunteer, a school volunteer, the president of the athletic booster club and a Girl and Boy Scout leader during her lifetime. She also served on the Randolph County School Board for 16 years and was on the board of the Randolph County Hospice.

"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."

Lynda Petty is survived by her husband of 55 years, Richard, son Kyle and daughters Sharon, Lisa and Rebecca. She had several grandchildren and great- grandchildren.