When I opened my door on Walter Street, SE, I could see Cora’s front door across the street. Often I’d wave as she opened her door to walk her sweet pup Ginger. She was one the few long-time residents of that very special one-way street on Capitol Hill. I knew it was her family’s home, but not until her celebration of life did I discover Cora was literally born in her Walter Street home and lived there for all of her 85 years.
It was Cora and other DC natives on the block that gave Walter Street the caring, generous, all-inclusive energy to which I was attracted almost 40 years ago. It’s a street that has a lot of history and was home to several Holy Comforter St. Cyprian Catholic Church residents. The street was built more than 100 years ago for parishioners of St. Cyprian Catholic Church which was around the corner on 13th and C St. SE. When I asked how long Cora was at Holy Comforter the answer was, “forever!” St. Cyprian was torn down in the late 1960s and merged with Holy Comforter on East Capitol St., SE. Cora was always a member.
But Cora Campbell was not just a member of the church; she dedicated her life to God, and her life reflected everything Catholicism stands for. She was kind, generous and unassuming. Yet, she was strong, steadfast and dedicated. She worked hard from the beginning of her career as a nurse. She found her fit at National Capitol Bank, walking distance from her Walter Street home from which she retired from 20 years ago.
Because of her experience in banking, Cora was the “counter” each Sunday of the weekly offerings at the church. She was a lifelong member of the church Sodality. Cora was known as the “Ticketmaster Queen” at the church. She was a member of the gospel choir and was always the top seller of their annual concert tickets. At her funeral, Monsignor Eddie Tolentino, who was once her pastor and one of the three priests that celebrated her homegoing, remembered his being at HCSC in 1978. Both he and Cora were selling Bingo cards. No one sold more than Cora. “Cora’s life said it all from beginning to end. She was just amazing,” he reminisced.
Father Raymond Kemp, who was also her pastor, remembered how kind Cora was. “She never mumbled an evil word against anyone,” he said. “She always knew what needed to be done.” Her current pastor, Monsignor Charles Pope gave tribute to Cora. “Cora had a most unassuming dignity. She had a great love for God’s people and lived a life close to the Gospel.”
After Cora’s retirement I would regularly see Cora out in her front yard playing with her great-grandchildren who she took care of for her granddaughter Lauren. Spending time with her “great-grans” was her true calling. It’s what she loved to do best.
More than two hundred people joined together to celebrate Cora’s life including her Sodality sisters and the gospel choir who sang at the celebration.
Cora is survived by one brother James Campbell and three sisters—Doris Culver, Margaret Jameson and Agnes Phillips—who are the remaining siblings out of the 13 that were raised in the Walter Street home. She is also survived by her daughter Michelle King; granddaughters Nicole Reams, Lauren Campbell and Rasheeda King and several great-grandchildren.