Longtime Nashville resident Renette Corenswet dies at age 98


Renette Israel Corenswet passed away in her sleep on August 18 at the age of 98, at Brookdale Green Hills Cumberland, where she spent the last four years of her life. 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, N.C., 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, N.C., where she earned the highest certifications in typing and shorthand. 

Her formal education was cut short by WWII when she answered the call by President Roosevelt for young women to support the war effort in Washington D.C. She was selected--out of over 200 young women--to become the administrative assistant to the Chief of Naval Personnel for the U.S. 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. Their daughter, Ellen, was born in 1950 and son, Robert, in 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 

An accomplished artist. Renette 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 

Memorials may be made in honor of Mrs. Corenswet to the Jewish Federation of Nashville, West End Synagogue, The Temple or the Nashville Symphony Orchestra. 


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