Helen Corson Obituary

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 Helen Corson

She left the world a better place

 “Never tentative.” What words could better describe Miss Helen Corson, whose full life of honest service and perfect integrity drew to a peaceful close last Friday? She was a Friend, in every sense of the word. Her lifelong commitment to peace and equality, to the poor, to women, to black people, had a continuing impact over the 94 years of her life, helping to foster ongoing positive social change. Just four years ago, when she was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Lincoln University, Dr. W.T.M. Johnson paid her this appropriate tribute:

“Black people in Chester Country have long known Helen Corson for her strong, unwavering and never tentative support of equal rights. There are many liberal-minded, well-intentioned people who say they are on the side of equality for blacks and who talk well, but who stop short of action. Helen has been willing to take clear, unequivocal stands.”

Blessed with extraordinary vitality, Miss Corson turned her considerable energies into actions dictated by her uncompromising conscience. She was an activist not because it was fashionable, but because her conscience left her no other course, and she served her causes of peace and equality with a sense not of sacrifice but of simple and deep dedication.

As a teenager at the turn of the century, Helen Corson was a suffragette. In her 20s she became an active pacifist. She was well ahead of the times in her active concern for improving relations between blacks and whites, and helped the times to change. She became personally involved in emergency relief programs for poverty-stricken miners in Kentucky and West Virginia during the Depression. She took a stand against McCarthyism, at the age of 67, and never mindthat it cost her her job. She demonstrated against hydrogen bomb testing at the age of 77, and never mind that it earned her a police arrest record. Vigorous and tireless throughout her 70s, she actively protested germ warfare, and U.S. Involvement in hostilities in Southeast Asia. And she was 86 when, in protest against the 1971 bombing in Cambodia, she helped organize People for Peace in Chester County.

Chester County was privileged to be the home of this gentle and forceful lady, whose unwavering sense of commitment demonstrated the quality of wholeness – upright, honest and sincere – that is the very definition of integrity. Our county, our nation, our world are better for having been granted the presence of Helen Corson.