Obituary for Corinne Newell

Obituary for Corinne Newell

Corrine Matthis Newell, 81, of Roxboro, died Wednesday, September 30, 2015.

Born in Craven County, Mrs. Newell was the daughter of the late Guy and Nannie Lamm Matthis. Mrs. Newell retired from Person County Schools having taught at Roxboro High School, Helena High School, and Nothern Junior High School. She was a member of Roxboro Presbyterian Church.

Mrs. Newell is survived by her husband, Russell E. Newell; two children, Russell Guy Newell and wife Sally, of Manteo and Claudia Zalene Newell, of Ocracoke; two sisters, Liz and Nancy; five grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

Editor's note: One of Corinne's grandchildren is Mary-Chandler Storrs, who lives on Ocracoke and owns the Island Inn. Mary-Chandler wrote the following tribute to Corinne for the Ocracoke Current.

My grandmother, whom many of you knew and loved fondly, passed away last Thursday, September the 30th, 2015 at the age of 81.

Let me tell you all a secret about Corinne: she loved this island, and this precious little community with a fierce and radiant passion.

The sheer magnitude of the outpouring of condolences to me and mine of late has overwhelmed us.

For your kind words and thoughts and – most of all – your fond memories of the woman I was blessed enough to call my grandmother- I thank you all.

Each little story, each memory- of a kindness, an elegance, a helping hand, a radiant smile- each of these is an immeasurable gift to us. A piece of the past, and of the tapestry of a life that is lost to us now.

Corinne Matthis Newell was an enchanting jewel of a human know her was indeed to love her.

What to say of her now? How can I possibly describe her intelligence, her zest for life, her compassion, her boundless sense of justice, her unending loving spirit?

There is so much to say about her, words fail me now.

Let me at least say this: Corinne Newell was an example of feminism and individualism and self confidence and compassion before any of these things were described to me as admirable characteristics. In all ways and things, Corinne led by example.

Here was a woman who – when offered a new car in exchange for majoring in Home Economics (by my great -grandfather, who was a wonderful man, but very much a product of his time) – opted to major in Physics and Biology and walk to class.

A woman who existed courageously on the forefront of civil rights, and led integration efforts as a beloved teacher in the hostile environment of rural North Carolina in the 1950's and '60's.

A woman who loved and sacrificed for her family with a (sometimes smothering) love, a love unlike anything I have ever experienced, or ever will again.

A woman who noticed and delighted in the most minuscule beauties and fleeting moments of being.

A woman who observed the intricate colors of the Ocracoke marsh grass during a sunset (for example)...for hours. As the light faded from tangerine, to navy, to deep purple to black- she would write poetry, or paint, or call me to try and explain the magnificence outside of her window.

"My mother would have loved the sunset tonight..." she would say, giving up on an attempt to describe the sunset's beauty. And finally, exasperated, "...well, I really can't do it justice in words."

As the light of Corinne's life has now faded from tangerine, to navy, to deep black; I know that I can never do her life justice in words, either.

Forgive me, Corinne.

I take solace from the fact that she is now with her mother and father (she never stopped missing them – ever...and I now know and understand that sadness, because I will never stop missing her).

What I would like to stress here- in my make-shift attempt at an unorthodox obituary is this: not that Corinne died, but that she lived.

And that, the beauty and grace of her life can and will be a beacon unto my own, until my own light fades to black.

(Thank you again to all of you, and the Ocracoke Community for your support and love during this time. Ocracoke was, in so many ways, the greatest love of Corinne's life).

Comments powered by Disqus