Thank You, Ms. Corbett

Jeanne Tedrow is president & CEO of the North Carolina Center for Nonprofits

Fannie Mae Evans Corbett of Wilson, NC died on February 19, 2019 at the age of 86. I always knew her as “Miss Corbett.” When I was in her midst, I often stood in awe and felt that I was standing in the shadow of a great and courageous woman. As an African American leader, she knew life challenges beyond my understanding. She inspired so many and lived her life to help her community thrive. Under her leadership, it did. She challenged the status quo and persevered to bring positive change to her community. I imagine that she could be called the “Mother” of community development in North Carolina. Certainly, she is one who helped lead and inspire so many others in the difficult work of community economic development. Her organization, Wilson Community Improvement Association, was formed in 1968 by a group of local citizens dedicated to bringing hope to the hopeless, working to change conditions against great odds. Miss Corbett leaves behind a living legacy where her life made a difference to so many. She knew the value and strength in bringing people together in a shared vision with a common purpose. Her passing is a great loss for all those who knew and loved her and for others like me, who were fortunate simply to have met her. She would never know how my life and work was influenced by her example. We are taking the time at the Center to hold Miss Corbett up as a leader in our midst. I will remember her with love and admiration and try as best I can to continue the great work she has begun. Let us not forget upon whose shoulders we stand. Please take a moment to catch a glimpse of the life she created and the legacy she leaves. The works she has done and the service she gave will speak for her. She will be remembered for the courageous life she lived. Thank you, Miss Corbett.

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