Corine Bailey Crayton lived a full, Blessed life. She was born to Alice Cornelia Leslie and Acy Bailey on July 4, 1924, in Gantt, AL. She loved fireworks, especially throwing firecrackers! Later in her young life, she and brother, NeLacy Bailey, moved to Opp when their mother was married to Fletcher F. Jones. She lived there, off and on, until just a few months before her death, blessed by God, faith, prayers, friends, and special dispensations.
Ms. Corine traveled a world that few from her humble beginnings were able to do, in her day. She wrote that “Education and Christian education were a part of who she was for as long as she could remember.” and, God moved in Mysterious Ways in her life as she pursed both. She moved from US Highway 29 in Gantt, AL to Hardin St. in Opp to Selma University, where she was a classmate with the late Juanita Odessa Jones (who would become the wife of Dr. Ralph David Abemathy, co-partner with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. In the civil rights movement.) In a special program for black students, she attended the School of Nursing at the Columbus (GA) General Hospital; and studied X-Ray and Laboratory Techniques at the Wilson School of Technology in Boston, MA, where she lived with a Jewish family during her met Vermon E. Crayton, Jr. originally form Atlanta. The two were married and moved to his home in Washington, D.C. in 1952. the couple had three children before the marriage ended and she brought her family to Opp.
Ms. Corine parents made plans for her to attend Alabama State College (now University). Her mother, Alice Jones, cared for her children, with help from her cousin, Margaret Jones Hill, as she pursued her BS degree in Elementary Education, with a minor in English. The summer of her last year, she volunteered as an older student to work with the civil rights movement and Dr. Martin King Jr. She renewed her friendship with Mrs. Juanita Abernathy and their wives worked with other leaders in the birth and growth of the movement, Corine helped to prepare meals for organizers-mostly pastors and community leaders who met in the Abernathy and King homes. She provided transportation for freedom riders from bus stations to the movement headquarters, and once drove Dr. King from the Montgomery airport to his home, after a speech out of town. Also, while completing her degree work, she looked after their children.
After that experience, back in Opp, she was determined that her children would not be bused to Andalusia, the nearest black middle and high schools, in Covington County, the second hand-school bus was not in good condition and often broke down before the children could get to school or on the drive home from school. So, she set out to integrate the white high school. After conversations with two parents: Mr. and Mrs. Steve Barlow and Mrs. Bennie Mae Lane, Crayton’s oldest daughter and their three children took the historical step in 1985. She received great help from her family especially Mr. Jones who lost jobs to support his family because desegregation activities. Crayton taught in the Brewton public school system at Opp County Elementary school and Kinston Elementary School. She briefly attended the University of South Alabama and Mobile to pursue the Master’s degree, on a scholarship.
Active in the democratic party she helped her father (Acy Bailey) and brother (Nelacy Bailey) organize the black Covington county chapter of the Democratic Party conference. From Nazareth Baptist church and the National Baptist convention she accompanied her mother, who was president of women auxiliary in the south east district and south west district of the Alabama Missionary Baptist state convention. She also traveled with her mother to national Baptist convention in Chicago, New York, San Francisco and etc. Over the years, she served as principal of Vacation Bible Schools at Nazereth and Mt. Moriah Missionary Baptist in Andalusia. And, as teacher and counselor at the summer bible camp at Selma University. She served committee capacities in the Women's Department of the Alabama Baptist State Convention and at the SE Alabama District State Women’s Convention, including the “Selma University Day” fundraiser, at the Peoples Baptist Church, her home church when she lived and worked in Montgomery in the 1980s and 90s, she served as Secretary Clerk, At Nazareth, she was assistant Sunday School Teacher of the Adults Women’s Sunday School Class, well into her 90s. Over the years, she served in the Missionary Society #252, Ladies Aide Society, the matrons, and she was a member of the Eastern Star, Lily of the Valley chapter #754 at one point under the leadership of her niece, Delissima A. Bailey, Worthy Matron, Now, Led by Ms. Teresa Hines.
In March 2015, Mrs. Sylvia Nell Henderson Tyson stopped by the house and said ‘Mrs. Crayton pack some clothes. We’re going to Selma!” Mrs. Tyson drove them to the 50th Anniversary of the March from Selma to Montgomery. They stayed for the entire week of he Celebration, attended by President and Mrs. Barak Obama and their daughters, the late U.S. Rep John R. Lewis, Pres and Mrs. George W. Bush and other national and state dignitaries, along with thousands who came to walk across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in recognition the work and struggles of the Civil Right Movement. It was a highlight of her life!
Along with her children in person and behind the scenes– she was cared for by Nazareth Missionary Baptist Church First Lady, Mrs. Patricia Hill and Mrs. Charlene Smith, an angel in our midst. The Matrons was a weekly stable in her life, led by Mrs. Jeanete Merrills. They visited residents at the Opp Health and Rehabilitation facility on Friday nights. Going to signings and church concerts with Mrs. Charlene Smith was another highlight for her. Her help at the house or numerous other needs. For years, members of Nazareth and charitable groups stopped by to check on her, including Dec. Mac Hines, cousin Gwendolyn Jessie, Mrs. Ann Smith and Carol Brooks, who brought frozen meals and many others. Many thanks to the medical attention and care to our mother in her final months and weeks. She couldn't say enough about how well and how gentle they were with her. They also provided support and counseling for Gloria, her care giver-daughter during those long, emotionally ad physically wearing days when COVID-19 kept families apart.
She is preceeded in death by her Mother (Alice Jones), father (Acy Bailey), brother (Nelacy Bailey), step grandfather (Dea. F.F. Jones), granddaughter Gillia Alexandria Crayton.
She leaves great memories with three adult children: Corine Brenda Crayton-Pitches, with whom she enjoyed watching Bama football games on Tv in the Fall and Winter, Vernon Emmitt Crayton, III, who handled her medical and financial affairs for more than a decade; and Alice Glora Crayton, who lovingly and sacrificially cared for her in her home during the last nine months of her illness, and off and on during 20 years of her life in Opp. Her adult granddaughters; Mia Lauren Crayton and Gabriela Andrina Crayton (and late Gillian Alexandria Crayton). In addition, her brothers daughters: nieces Margaret Gail Williams, Her two sons, Joe and Jock; Zobria Bailey Ingram and son, Kent Ingram, II and Delissima Andrina Bailey, who was like a daughter, and son, Christian N. Bailey, who was like a grandson. A special cousin; Mrs. Hallen Crowell, whom they had pone bible study.
The entire family grew up with Margaret Jones Hill, granddaughter of Corine’s step-father, Dec. F.F. Jones, who was her niece, who was more like an aunt to her children. Also, half-sister, Anna Pearl Bailey Staley and children; numerous family members of the Crowell, Leslie and Bailey-Pollard families. The family of Rev. Clarence P. Noble, cousin, Tuskegee, AL had a special love for her and made sure she attended that branch of the family reunion to receive recognition as the oldest family member; included friend from grade school, Mrs. Georgia Lee Terry, all the way until her death.
In the last decade of her life, the Opp community told her story. She was blessed to see her story told and celebrated. Mrs. Corine wrote, “As I look Back, I can say that I have been blessed with a large loving and God– Fearing family, and abundance of friends, good health, and plenty of God’s Love, Grace and Mercy!”
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Corine B. Crayton, please visit our floral store.