Winona "Nona" (Conner) Corzilius, 88, passed away on Friday, April 13th at her home at The Fountains Assisted Living Center, where she had lived for nine years. The daughter of Marvin and Ruth (Rhinehart) Conner, She was preceded in death by her ex-husband, William R. Corzilius, and is survived by her three daughters and sons-in-law, Karen Truman (Mike); Connie Spasser (Mark); and Rebecca Corzilius (Robert Clauss). She was also blessed with three grandchildren, of whom she was very proud: Alison and Abigail Spasser, both of Atlanta, Georgia, and Clayton Truman, of Louisville, Kentucky, as well as two step-grandchildren, Ben and Season Clauss, both of Chicago. She also is survived by her sisters, Patricia Newsome and Carole Crane, and numerous nieces, nephews, and cousins.
"Nonie," as her grandchildren called her, was born on August 31, 1929 in Bernice, Oklahoma, but lived most of her life in Granite City, where she was a 1947 graduate of Granite City High School. She married Bill Corzilius, who was then Assistant Superintendant of the Blast Furnace and Sintering Plant at Granite City Steel, in 1950 and worked as an executive secretary at First National Bank in Granite City before becoming a homemaker. She was an avid reader of history books, novels, and the newspaper, and frequently stayed up late with a book--a practice she continued her entire life. As a member of the Cherokee Nation, she was particularly interested in Native American history and culture, and she also was devoted to progressive politics, volunteering for Common Cause and donating her time to register voters for many years.
Her work in the community was extensive. She was a long-time member of Nameoki Presbyterian Church, where she served on both the Session and as an Elder, and she was Church Secretary on a volunteer basis for more than a decade. She held many local and state Church Women United posts, receiving CWU's Valiant Woman award in 1997. Her work at CWU included spearheading the founding of Hope House for homeless families; work on both the Baby's Layette program and the Prison Ministry at Dwight Women's Prison (where she helped to establish a chapel for the inmates and made recordings of incarcerated mothers for their children); and establishment of the annual "Music, Music" program, which remains a major CWU fundraiser to benefit Granite City Charities. She was instrumental in founding Project Hope, a food pantry for out-of-work steelworkers, was active in the Interfaith Dialogue of St. Louis, and headed up voter registration every two years for United Congregations of Metro-East. These are just some of the myriad ways that Nona gave of her time and talents.
All who knew her were struck by Nona's independence, compassion, and big personality. Whether it was doing the Twist, playing golf, or singing along to Pearl Bailey or "My Fair Lady," Nona gave it her all. She will be sorely missed by those who loved her best and by all whose lives she touched.
In celebration of Nona’s life, visitation will be held on Friday, April 20, 2018 from 4-7 p.m. (family only from 4-5) and on Saturday, April 21 from 12-1 p.m. at Irwin Chapel, 3960 Maryville Road in Granite City. The funeral is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, with a luncheon to follow (location TBD).
Memorials are encouraged to the Cherokee Language Master Apprentice Program c/o Cherokee Nation Businesses, 777 W. Cherokee St., Catoosa OK 74015.
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