Annabel Corna answered country's call during World War II
Annabel J. Corna was working as a bookkeeper during World War II when she heard a radio commercial offering women full engineering scholarships to Pennsylvania State University.
"All the men were at war, and engineers were needed," her daughter Deborah Corna said. Mrs. Corna, then Annabel Johnson, joined the first group of women admitted to the university's engineering department, and earned a certificate in aeronautical engineering.
Annabel J. Corna, 88, died Thursday, Dec. 2, 2010, in her home in Rector, Westmoreland County. She was a retired mathematics teacher for the Jeannette School District, and an avid golfer who lived each winter in Ocala, Fla.
Mrs. Corna grew up in Ligonier and, after skipping two grades, graduated from Ligonier High School. After bookkeeping school, she worked as a bookkeeper for the former Troutman's Department Store in Greensburg.
Then, intrigued by Penn State's offer, she went to classes Mondays through Saturdays for two years under the accelerated program at the State College campus. Aircraft engine maker Pratt & Whitney paid the tuition, in exchange for a promise from each student to work for the company for at least two years.
After finishing the program, Mrs. Corna worked for Pratt & Whitney parent United Aircraft Corp. for two years in Hartford, Conn.
Later, she married high school acquaintance James B. Corna. She hadn't liked him much in school, Deborah Corna said, but after they met again in a nightclub, "They became better friends, and eventually they had five children."
Corna's nickname for his wife was Hardrock. "She was his rock. She was there for everybody, and family was everything to her," Deborah Corna said.
In the late 1960s, Mrs. Corna began work toward a teaching degree in Indiana University of Pennsylvania, figuring the profession would allow time with her family. She taught middle school math for most of her career in the Jeannette schools. She retired in 1984.
She and her husband traveled to Italy every two years, and made trips to Egypt, Spain, Greece, China and other countries. They were founding members of the Darlington Volunteer Fire Company, and even cosigned a loan to help the department buy its first fire truck about 1950. They were active in Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Ligonier.
James Corna died in 2002. Mrs. Corna also was preceded in death by a daughter, Nina Budney Kobistek; two sons, James B. Corna II and Dr. Daniel A. Corna; a sister, Fern McCracken; and a brother, Eugene Johnson.
Survivors include daughters Paula Ament of Sarver, Butler County, and Deborah Corna of Ocala, Fla., six grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. Also four sisters and a brother: Grace Burkett of Youngstown, Ohio, Ina Mae Smithley of Ligonier, Wanda Marlene Aikens of Holland, Mich., Rita Horrell of Ligonier and Paul A. Johnson of Ligonier.
Visitation is scheduled from 2 to 4 and 6 to 8 p.m. today in J. Paul McCracken Funeral Chapel and Crematory Inc., Ligonier. A vigil for the deceased will be held at 3 p.m. today in the chapel.
A blessing service is planned at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday in the chapel, followed by a funeral Mass at 10 a.m. in Holy Trinity Catholic Church. Interment will follow in Laurel Hill Cemetery.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Darlington Volunteer Fire Company or to Holy Trinity Catholic School.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Missing Southwest Greensburg man found dead at crash site in Bell
- Former Ligonier Township supervisor accused of abusing position, viewing porn on the job
- $10K grants will help people purchase homes in Monessen
- The real Captain Phillips brings story of piracy to St. Vincent College
- Laurel Mountain State Park ski plans will go to Ligonier Township supervisors
- Mt. Pleasant man injured when tractor hit by vehicle
- Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County upgrades emergency communications plan
- Physicist found joy in family, friends, work, wine
- WCCC changes dual-enrollment policy
- Corbett rips Wolf tax proposals during Hempfield campaign stop
- Redstone gets $90K grant for safety upgrade