Community Mourns Loss of Eva Corbett
Last updated 4/15/2020 at 7:33pm
Eva Corbett, who died April 11, may not have had the renown her husband, World War Two hero Jordan "J.J." Corbett does, but she was held in deep esteem, and cherished by those who knew her.
For a number of them, their memories of Corbett stemmed from having been students of hers. One of those students was Nat Birdsong, mayor pro tem of Winter Haven.
Birdsong was a student at Jewett High School who was in her home economics class. Now in his 70s, Birdsong said it was not unusual for male students to take home economics at Jewett H.S. That was because many males in the black community enjoyed cooking, he said.
"She taught in a student-positive manner," he said. "Everyone was raring to go to her class. But not everyone could get into her class, because it was an elective."
While he would see Corbett at functions such as alumni reunions, it is his wife, Ann, who lived in another part of Florida growing up, who was closer to Corbett.
"I was never a student of hers. That would have been the ultimate pleasure," Ann Birdsong said.
The two knew each other through church, and it was there their friendship grew.
"She was the godmother of my pastor's wife," she said; that church being First Missionary Baptist Church of Winter Haven.
"It was a joy, being a dear friend of hers. I miss her dearly," said Ann Birdsong.
Many people had similar feelings and comments about Eva Corbett; in particular they spoke of her personality.
"She was a delight," said Joyce Thurman, who attends St. James A.M.E. Church in Bartow. "She had a smile that would light up a room "
Although he wasn't positive whether Eva Corbett served on any, or how many, church committees, there was one thing you knew about her, according to Carver Young, a fellow congregant.
"Where you needed her, that's where she was," he said.
"She was a very kind person, had a tender heart," said Pastor Shirley William Hayes, of St. James AME. The pastor remembered Eva Corbett as a lady, with finesse."Any young lady would like to pattern themselves after her."
However, the one thing Hayes delighted recalling was the great love Eva Corbett had for her husband. Hayes fondly chuckled as she recounted something special she often witnessed between the couple.
"She called him Jay," said Hayes. "Nobody could say Jay like she could."
"Mrs. Corbett was a force in her own right, one of Bartow's finest residents," said Clifton Lewis, president of the L.B. Brown House Museum in Bartow. "She did things with quiet dignity and grace.
"Mrs. Corbett taught us how to make a powerful impact in her own quiet way, he said. "Her passing leaves a tremendous void that can never be filled."