CALLAO—Elsie Pearl Beauchamp Cornwell, 90, departed this life on Tuesday, February 21, 2023.
She was preceded in death by her beloved husband of 62 years, John Robert Cornwell; her parents, Allen and Janie Beauchamp; her sisters, Helen Beauchamp Lane, Violet Beauchamp Fisher, Dora Beauchamp Dunaway, Fairy Lee Beauchamp Headley, Ethel Beauchamp Bush, Florence Beauchamp Swann and Jean Beauchamp Brook; brothers, James Franklin Beauchamp, James Allen Beauchamp, and infant boy Beauchamp.
She is survived by her daughter, Yvonne Cornwell Hurt, (Dr. Alfred); her son, John Allen Cornwell (Sally); her grandchildren, Jeremy Stolfi, and Thomas Stolfi (Michelle); Alexandra Cornwell, Charlotte Cornwell Charlton (Wes), and Julian Cornwell (Liz); and her great-grandchildren, Nora Charlton, Isaac Charlton, Penn Charlton and Tate Pastena Cornwell. She is also survived by her remaining sibling, Rebecca Allen Beauchamp; and many cousins, nieces and nephews.
Elsie was born at home during a blizzard on the family farm in Hyacinth during the Great Depression. The doctor had to travel through heavy snow by horse and buggy to her parents’ farm. Her experience during this time may have defined her path in life—her care for her family, her faith and her thriftiness.
She loved farm life, and more importantly, Elsie loved being with her family, her many sisters, and all the animals, including her pet pig named Patsy. Sadly, her three brothers all passed away before she was born. Nevertheless, running a small farm was a family affair. All the girls pitched in to help their parents, milking the cows, feeding the pigs, cleaning out stalls, picking tomatoes, corn and even working at the local tomato cannery.
Reflecting on her memories of that time, Elise wrote, “Mama dressed us in pants and long sleeve shirts to keep us from being sunburned. We also wore a large straw hat which covered our face. When I first started picking tomatoes, I was too small to carry a basket, so I used a bucket.” By the time Elsie was 14, she was picking as many as 100 baskets of tomatoes in one day.
Elsie was a proud member of the 1950 graduating class of Callao High School and continued friendships with her classmates for the rest of her life.
In August 1950, she married John Robert Cornwell from Lancaster and they later moved to Baltimore and began their 62 years of marriage. Both their children were born there. After 10 years of city life, the family moved back to the Northern Neck and settled in Callao.
Family and faith were essential factors in Elsie’s life. She was a lifetime member of Henderson United Methodist Church and because of her love for the church, she served in many capacities. For years she and John worked together on the church’s Happy Meals program and distributed many meals in the community. John began the long-standing annual Veterans Day service at the church, and, with Elsie’s help, eventually it culminated in the building of the Veterans Memorial at Henderson church. Elsie also served her church as a Sunday school teacher and sang in the choir for decades.
A funeral service was held at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, March 1, at Henderson United Methodist Church in Hyacinth. Interment followed in the church cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Henderson Church Happy Meals Program, 72 Henderson Drive, Callao, VA 22435, or the Northumberland County Animal Shelter, P.O. Box 603, Burgess, VA 22432.