By Will Ann Avery and Debra Hollimon
Special to the Banner
Mrs. Cora L. Barnett Hughes was born in Trenton, Tennessee on December 29, 1932 to Willie Fay Barnett Hicks and Leo Hicks. After the death of her mother she was adopted by her uncle, Len Barnett, and his wife, Thelma Wade Barnett. She was their only child and a joy to them.
Miss Cora attended school in Trenton through the fifth grade before her family moved to Detroit. She returned to Lake County after the ninth grade. Since there was no high school in Lake County she attended and graduated from Webb High School in McKenzie, Tennessee.
She developed a love of sports as a member of the Webb basketball team.
In 1951 she enrolled in Lane College in Jackson, Tennessee. Miss Cora’s mother worked at Boyette’s Dining Room and her father worked on the farm to help her gain a college education. Miss Cora did not want her parents to share the financial burden alone. She worked in the college cafeteria to help with expenses.
While at Lane, she made many lasting memories living on campus, participating in intramural sports, playing in the band and becoming a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated. She graduated in June 1955 with a Bachelor of Science degree in health and physical education.
Miss Cora was married to the late Earl Hughes and is the proud mother of one daughter, Janice Hughes Williams. Janice is a graduate of Lake County High School and is a retire registered nurse.
Miss Cora began her teaching career in Lake County at Mooring Elementary where she taught five grades. Since there was no transportation for students at the time she used her own vehicle to transport “her children” to as many educational activities in the county as well as outside.
Miss Cora developed relationships with churches and community leaders to provide programs and activities that would enrich the students’ learning experiences. She spent eight years at Mooring, not only teaching, but learning from students and the community she served.
After a fire at Mooring School Miss Cora moved to Lincoln High School. She served as a teacher, librarian and girls basketball coach at Lincoln. During this period, she obtained her certification in library science from George Peabody College in Nashville.
In the 1968-69 school year she became librarian at Lake County High School. Miss Cora received her Masters Degree in Education in 1979. She served the students and staff of Lake County High until her retirement in 1995.
Professionally Miss Cora was a teacher but she served in other capacities. She was a mother figure when you needed comfort, a counselor when you needed guidance and a coach when you needed direction. Miss Cora has been a role model and mentor for countless young people. Her kindness and support have shaped and molded lives.
Miss Cora has been actively involved in the community. Some of the many committees and advisory boards she has served on are Head Start Council, Lifebeat, Lake County Board of Education, NAACP, Lincoln Alumni Association and Lake County Retired Teachers. Miss Cora is an active member of St. John No. 3 Baptist Church, Bright Star Chapter Order of the Eastern Star and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority.
At 90 she is still active, mowing yards, cleaning flower beds and other outside chores. Lake County has been blessed to have this woman of integrity, love and devotion to her fellowman in our midst.