February 18, 1916 – October 04, 2013
A Memorial Service of Remembrance and Celebration will be held at 2:30 PM
on Friday, November 29, in the Union Church, 3 Stonecliff Road, Biddeford Pool, Maine 04006
Memorial Contributions may be made to the Union Church Hymnal Fund, in honor of Charlotte’s life-long interest in church music, including singing, liturgical dance and bell choirs.
Alternatively you may honor her support of missions by contributing to the WAYS Haitian Mission Trips organized by her daughter, Nancy Shantia.
Checks for either fund may be made payable to Union Church, Box 344, Biddeford Pool, Maine, 04006, with a memo for “Hymnal Fund” or “Haitian Mission.”
Auburn-Charlotte Elizabeth Corning, daughter of a horse and buggy doctor, Peter Winslow Franklin Corning, and former postmistress, Nettie Beede Corning, grew up in Londonderry, New Hampshire. Her father died tragically in a train accident when she was 3½, an event that changed her whole family – then three generations of women. They faced life with the staunch assertiveness and feisty clarity that was typical of New Englanders. That forging served her well as she became a ground-breaker in healing and wholeness in nursing.
A graduate of Bates College in 1938 Charlotte graduated from the Yale School of Nursing in 1941 and married the love of her life, The Rev. M. Webb Wright, in 1942. Those first years Webb served the South Federated Church in Waterbury Connecticut; she worked as a Public Nurse in New Haven. Subsequently Webb served churches in Biddeford Maine, Fall River Massachusetts, and Woodbury, Connecticut. In each of those places Charlotte pursued her career in nursing.
Their family grew as daughter Anne was born in the Waterbury years in 1944 and Nancy in Maine in 1949. The family continued to grow through love, open hearts and homes – among those children-by-love were Linda, Susan and Peter Dean, Sammee Beverly Quong, Susie Ball, Suzanne and Raza Hassan, Norma Ellis, Gina Rhea, Coumba Sam, and most recently, her caregiver, Steve Rogers (just to name a few) – and literally dozens of well loved members of the church youth groups they led in each of Webb’s churches…. These wonderful sisters and brothers added new generations of loved and cherished members to the family circle.
Ever the educator, Charlotte Corning Wright, MSN, dove into nursing education in the Truesdale Hospital School of Nursing in Fall River, Massachusetts where she served as clinical instructor, then clinical coordinator and curriculum coordinator. It was in that time that she started to influence her peers to advance their educations in nursing, an activity that continued through her life. She was active in moving that nursing program into a college setting as consensus was building that nursing education belonged in academic institutions.
From Fall River the family moved to Woodbury Connecticut. Charlotte soon joined the faculty of the Waterbury Hospital School of Nursing, where she eventually became director. While there she broke ground in many ways including accepting men and physically handicapped people into the program. In 1973 she completed the movement of that program into a local community college.
In 1974 Charlotte received a grant from the National Cancer Institute to educate nurses in Waterbury Connecticut Project ONE established ground-breaking education for Oncology Nurse Education in the care of people with cancer. The goal was for nurses to master an understanding of cancer diagnosis and treatment and psychosocial issues that would enable them to provide care to people with cancer supporting body, mind and spirit and the patient’s family. There were classes for doctors and chaplains as well. An innovative move led the program to offer training in cancer detection to hairdressers, bartenders and taxi drivers who daily hear people’s personal concerns. At the close of a three year program, due in part to nurses teaching people to look for cancer specialists, Waterbury had 6 oncologists and one of the hospitals in the city had developed a cancer center. Project ONE finished with the most successful students and the lowest budget of the 11 grants. During those years Charlotte also worked with a committee from Yale University Medical Center to help plan for the beginnings of the Hospice Movement in this country.
In his retirement Webb joined Charlotte in carrying the Project One concept to Portland Oregon where the State of Oregon hired her to offer this complex and holistic curriculum to their nurses for five years. While there, Webb and Charlotte traveled widely planting Hospices in rural communities in Oregon.
Charlotte and Webb loved to travel. The family spent every summer camping in many parts of the country. Anne and Nancy have many wonderful memories of stories Charlotte researched about the history and mythology of the places they visited; of the beauty of the United States; of many nights of singing around dozens of campfires and playing rousing games of ‘Go Fish’ and Canasta with family and peers.
Over the years Charlotte worked for the Heart Association and the Cancer Society in both paid and volunteer capacities. She also gave talks in the community on a variety of subjects. She saved all of that money she earned, and in 1966 arranged to buy a van to be delivered to us in Europe, and planned a 6 week camping adventure through Great Britain and parts of Europe.
As both Charlotte and Webb e retirement, they continued to travel abroad… Hawaii, New Zealand, Alaska, Mexico, the Holy Lands, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia and many other parts of Canada. They brought back hundreds of slides and souvenirs and amazing memories. Charlotte’s theme song became “The Happy Wanderer.” Traveling and enjoying family became the foci of their lives. She loved all of her family – by birth and of the heart… she followed their lives and their loves and reveled in reports and photos of all they did and dreamed.
In later years Charlotte and Webb spent summers from May through October in their cottage on Great Pond in the Belgrade Lakes. There they welcomed their extended family, including many children and grandchildren of the heart and their family and friends. They enjoyed canoeing and waterskiing, swimming and sailing and treasuring the sunsets on the original Golden Pond.
After she lost her beloved Webb, age gradually wore away at Charlotte’s body and mind but she loved to ‘GO’ right until the end. And it was a wonderful challenge for family and friends to honor her enjoyment of seeing and eating and exploring places old and new.
In her dying as in her living Charlotte passed on, just as she wished. “She did it HER way.” We thank Schooner Estates and their employees for their caring and support for her in these last challenging years.
She is survived by her daughters and their families, Anne Wright, her husband Bob Lohaus and their family of the heart Coumba Sam and Rouky Diallo; Nancy Shantia and Jonathan Wright-Gray, and their children: Dana Gray and Nohawit Aklilu, Brianna and Bob O’Connell, and Michelle and Thianar Djigal. She is also remembered by well loved nieces, cousins, dear friends old and new, colleagues, and many “family of the heart.”
Dear Charlotte / Toots / Mom / Nana – you are loved, you loved, you accomplished wonderful things, and you will be missed!