January 16, 1930 - June 7, 2021
Cornelia Ann Burnett Williams was the epitome of a gracious, southern, Christian woman. She welcomed and engaged everyone. She loved making new friends of all ages as well as keeping up with old friends. Cornelia was born in her mother’s Columbia, SC home on January 16, 1930. She was raised by strong Christian women who believed in service to others. She attended Columbia schools, graduating from Dreher High School in 1947. Queens College was her first college home. She transferred to the University of South Carolina where she joined Chi Omega and graduated in 1951 with a B.A. in Elementary Education. Cornelia and Leland, high school sweethearts, were married in 1952 and lived “hand in hand” throughout their lives. They enjoyed the happiness of being married to their best friend. From her work as a teacher, to her mothering years, along with her service through her church, her care of her own mother and the creation of prayer shawls, she showed compassionate, grace-filled and graceful service. She touched many lives through the International Wives program which built friendships, taught English and shared the love of God with wives of students from all over the world. She participated in this program at Florida State University and started and led it at Auburn University and Duke University. She and Leland furnished their home with antiques found in their early married life and raised their children to walk in the truth of the Lord. Life took them to Knoxville, TN, Athens, GA, Huntsville, AL, Newport, RI, Dahlgren, VA, Durham, NC, Tallahassee, FL, Auburn, AL, Edinburgh, Scotland, Alexandria, VA and back to Columbia. She believed in service through her church. At various times and in various churches she served as Woman’s Missionary Union Director, Sunday School teacher and leader, Steven Minister, and Alpha Leader (with Leland). She was an Honorary Life Member of the Presbyterian Women. In her communities she served on the Volunteer Service Board, Durham Christian Women’s Club Board, president of Garden Clubs and Book Clubs, and president of the Newcomers Club. She was honored to be one of Durham’s Women of the Year. She loved to create intricate crafts and handwork like pajamas and smocked outfits for each of her grandchildren. She and Leland loved to travel and entertain. She had a knack for making all feel comfortable: business associates, church friends, neighbors, Lee and Carolee’s friends alike. An avocation that Cornelia and Leland shared was their nurturing of camellias, a tradition started by her Brogden cousins. She and Leland grew, showed and helped the judges in area camellia shows. Later in life the tradition continued and the love of camellias was passed on to a dear cousin, Oderra Small, and his wife Julie and to her grandson’s wife, Kaitlynn James. She and Alex live in Cornelia and Leland’s prior home, where Cornelia was born. Cornelia is survived by her husband of almost 69 years, Leland. She is predeceased by their infant son Kenneth Felder Williams as well as her parents Leone Gunter Burnett and Hoyt Cromwell Burnett. Leland finds great comfort in knowing that Cornelia and Kenny are together. Cornelia is also survived by her other children Carolee Williams (Doug) and Lee Williams (Wendy). She is also survived by her grandchildren Carol Ann Peake (Steven), Alicia Hoffer (DJ), Alex Gunter James (Kaitlynn), Elizabeth Joy Williams and Stuart James. Her great grandchildren thrilled her with their reading, toenail painting, smiles and giggles. She and Leland “adopted” many special young people in their lives. Two must be named: Nancy Osborne and Destiny Prinski. Cornelia went home to be with her maker on Monday, June 7, 2021. A Witness to the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ and Celebration of Cornelia’s Life will be held on Saturday, June 12th at 10 am at Eastminster Presbyterian Church, 3200 Trenholm Road. Join in person or via the live feed found at https://eastminsterpres.org/live-services. The family looks forward to connecting with family and friends after the service in Thompson Hall. Shives Funeral Home, Trenholm Road Chapel, is assisting the family. In lieu of flowers, Cornelia and her family would appreciate donations to Eastminster Presbyterian Church (designated for the choir https://eastminsterpres.org/contribute ), Jubilee Academy (https://jubileeacademysc.org/ P.O. Box 4476, Columbia, SC 29240), or Cocky’s Reading Program (check to USC Education Foundation with “CRE” on memo line, Davis College, Attn. Christine Shelek, 1501 Greene St., Columbia, SC 29201).
Cornelia Ann Burnett Williams was the epitome of a gracious, southern, Christian woman. She welcomed and engaged everyone. She loved making new friends of all ages as well as keeping up with old friends. Cornelia was born in her mother’s... View Obituary & Service Information
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