Lynchburg community remembers activist, philanthropist, Rosel Schewel

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LYNCHBURG, Va. (WDBJ7) People in Lynchburg are saying goodbye to an activist and philanthropist who spent more than sixty years serving the community.

Rosel Schewel (Beacon of Hope)

Rosel Schewel died Thursday.

She was the wife of longtime State Senator Elliott Schewel, but became a giant in her own right through her involvement in a variety of local causes.

"She was nothing short of extraordinary,” said Laura Hamilton, the Executive Director of Beacon of Hope.

She was a community volunteer, an activist and a philanthropist. Her friends say she left a deep footprint in Lynchburg. "Starting CASA here to League of women voters to Riverviews Art Space to MAAM to Amazement Square… I mean you name it and her hand was on it," explained Hamilton.
"As someone said, she's been involved in all things good in Lynchburg,” added Edward Polloway, the Rosel Schewel Distinguished Professor of Education at Lynchburg College.

Schewel had a passion for education, women's rights and racial justice. She founded Lynchburg Beacon of Hope - a nonprofit that encourages students to pursue a post-secondary education. "These legacies that she created live on because she invested in … me and hundreds of people like me,” said Hamilton.

Schewel taught at Lynchburg College for nearly two decades and was the first woman to chair the school's board of trustees. A building on campus is named in her honor.

"Of course it was somewhat unusual for a faculty member to come back and be on the board of trustees, but it's not unusual when it's Rosel Schewel,” said Polloway.

Mayor Joan Foster says Schewel will be remembered for all she has done for the community. “So we will continue the good work that Rosel started here … we will miss her, though. My goodness we will miss her."

Rosel's family described her as an unstoppable force in this world -- and they want people to remember her by continuing all the work that she has started.

If you want to help, they ask that you donate to her nonprofit, Beacon of Hope. You can find more information here: