Renette Israel Corenswet passed away in her sleep on Wednesday night, August 18, at the age of 98, at Brookdale Green Hills Cumberland, where she spent the last four years of her life.
She was the matriarch of her extended family. She was preceded in death by her husband, Abe, and her son, Robert.
She is survived by her daughter and son-in-law, Ellen Corenswet and John Morgan; daughter-in-law Lucy Corenswet; brother and sister-in-law, Bill and Sally Israel; niece Sharon Israel; four grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren.
Renette was born on March 7, 1923 in Lumberton, NC to Miriam and Oscar Israel. She graduated from Lumberton High School in 1939 at age 16 and spent a year at Queens College in Charlotte, NC where she earned the highest certifications in typing and shorthand. Her formal education was cut short by WW2 when she answered the call by FDR for young women to support the war effort in Washington DC. She was selected–out of over 200 young women–to become the administrative assistant to the Chief of Naval Personnel for the US War Department. Her responsibilities brought her two notable assignments: preparing the official notification to the parents of the five Sullivan brothers who perished when their ship was sunk and escorting Eleanor Roosevelt to an event.
In the summer of 1949, while on vacation with her mother and brother, she had a blind date with Abe Corenswet from Nashville. They were married shortly thereafter on November 20, 1949. Ellen was born in November 1950 and Robert followed in April 1953. Renette became a lifelong member of The Inquirers Book Club in 1951, contributing to scholarly endeavors and the annual gala musical productions. Together, she and Abe served for over 60 years as the “godparents” of the AEPi fraternity at Vanderbilt with annual cookouts, Jewish holiday meals, and mentoring of fraternity brothers.
Renette was an accomplished artist. She learned to paint in her 30s and graced the walls of her home and many others with beautiful watercolors and oils. She was a self-taught pianist who could play any song in any key and, up until her last days, infused parties and holidays with big band and Broadway show tunes. She brought joy and music to every life she touched.
Graveside services will be conducted on Sunday, August 22, 2021 at 11 am at KKAI Cemetery. Services will be livestreamed via the Marshall-Donnelly-Combs Funeral Home Facebook Page. No Facebook account needed to join the livestream.
Memorials may be made in honor of Mrs. Corenswest to the Jewish Federation of Nashville, West End Synagogue, The Temple or the Nashville Symphony Orchestra.