Cora Newsome, 91, earned degree in her 60s

May 02, 1998|By Fred Rasmussen | Fred Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

Cora Newsome proved that you're never too old to go to college.

Mrs. Newsome, who returned to college in her 60s, died Monday from complications of diabetes and heart failure at Liberty Medical Center. The longtime West Baltimore resident was 91.

Born Cora Vada Dean in Cambridge, she moved to Baltimore as a child and attended Dunbar Junior High School. After graduating from Frederick Douglass High School in 1929, she began her college studies at the former Morgan State College.

She left Morgan in the early 1930s to raise her family and went to work in her husband's tailoring shop. In addition, she volunteered with the Heart Fund, the Muscular Dystrophy Association and the Multiple Sclerosis Society.

Because of a son who worked at the Kennedy Institute, and because her children were grown and she had the time, Mrs. Newsome decided to pursue a career in mental health.

In 1967, she became a health technician on the staff of Rosewood State Hospital, now Rosewood Center, in Owings Mills. She helped feed and dress patients and quickly earned the admiration of both staff and patients for her compassion.

In 1972, Mrs. Newsome returned to the former Community College of Baltimore to study for a degree in mental health. Known as the "Graduating Grandmother," she was an honors graduate when she earned her associate's degree in 1974.

"I decided to go back to school so I can better serve the people [whom] I work with every day and keep up with modern methods," she told the Afro-American in a 1974 interview. "I like helping people, and with this additional training, I can do a better job."

She retired in 1975.

An accomplished pianist, Mrs. Newsome studied piano at the Peabody Conservatory, played the piano and sang in the choir of Gillis Memorial Baptist Church and also was a choir member at Memorial Baptist Church.

Vigorous and independent, Mrs. Newsome enjoyed gardening and crocheting and was known for her sweaters, mittens, scarfs and bedspreads.

Her marriage to Hiawatha Mitchell ended in divorce. She was married for many years to William G. Newsome, who died in 1980.

Services for Mrs. Newsome will be held at 10: 30 a.m. today at Sacred Zion Full Gospel Church, 20 W. North Ave.

She is survived by three sons, Michael G. Newsome of Oakland, Calif., and John H. Mitchell and Leroy O. Newsome, both of Baltimore; two daughters, Mae B. Newsome and Carole A. Bracey, both of Baltimore; nine grandchildren; and nine great-grandchildren.

Pub Date: 5/02/98

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