Corinne Harper Arbuckle Allen, dedicated civic leader, devoted sister, aunt, stepmother and treasured friend, passed away November 9, 2020 in Chattanooga, TN. Corinne was a leader, a confidant and lived a life of respect, high integrity, and trustworthiness. She will be remembered as someone who was always willing to give of herself for the benefit of others.
Corinne was born and raised in Charlotte, NC where she graduated from Myers Park High School. She attended college at St. Mary’s and graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill with a Bachelor of Arts in Education. Corinne began her career as a Social Worker in Charlotte which was foundational to her future passion for family services and public education. As Executive Director of Kinder-Mourn, Inc. and later, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Education Foundation, she demonstrated her transformational leadership, significantly advancing the reputation and impact of the organizations, and forging initiatives that have been replicated locally and regionally.
In 1999, Corinne embarked on a new personal and professional chapter when she was recruited to Chattanooga’s Benwood Foundation as Executive Director. Under Corinne’s leadership, the Benwood Foundation shifted its approach to focus on proactive change in Chattanooga with a strategic plan focusing on education, arts and culture, the environment, and community development. This plan also fomented The Benwood Initiative which enabled a decade of education reform in Chattanooga and drew national attention.
Her civic commitments were numerous and demonstrate her interest and dedication to the communities where she contributed her passions and talents, including: Junior League of Charlotte, Member and President (1982-84), Chairman of the Board of Charlotte Speech and Hearing Center, and Secretary of the Board of Directors for CHI Memorial Hospital of Chattanooga. She also served on the Boards of the United Way, NC State Parents Association, Metropolitan YMCA, among many others. She was a long-time member of Rotary in Charlotte and Chattanooga and acted on local and regional steering committees focused on scholarship and foundation leadership development. She has been recognized by the Tennessee Network of Community Organizations as Community Leader of the Year and as a Chattanooga Woman of Distinction.
Corinne announced her retirement from the Benwood Foundation in 2012. During her retirement, she enjoyed her garden filled with white flowers of all varieties, fostered her love of learning with reading and spirited exploration of ideas, and shared precious time with family and friends. She maintained cherished and lifelong North Carolina friendships and cultivated a blossoming community in Chattanooga.
Those who know her best will remember her model of graciousness and dignity, her love of friendly competition, and her ability to recognize and affirm peoples’ unique gifts. Her friends described her as warm, loving, kind, generous, loyal and principled, compliments she would have surely deflected. Corinne’s sense of humor was keen, her wit was quick, and her laughter was hearty and infectious. Her personality, her intellect and her “lightness of being” were one-of-a-kind.
She is predeceased by her parents Judge Howard B. Arbuckle, Jr. and Betty Harper Arbuckle. She is survived by her brother Howard B. Arbuckle, III and sister-in-law Margaret Bourdeaux Arbuckle and their children Elizabeth Bourdeaux Arbuckle, Howard Mathew Arbuckle and Ada Adele Arbuckle Furst and their families. She is also survived by her stepsons Robert Christian Allen, Jr. and Raymond Scott Allen.
In lieu of flowers, gifts may be made in Corinne’s honor to the Public Education Foundation, a Chattanooga-based organization focused on equitable access to education, at 100 East Tenth St. Ste 500, Chattanooga, TN 37402; or to A Step Ahead Chattanooga which provides free long-term, reversible birth control to any woman living in Southeast Tennessee who wants it, at P.O. Box 4212 Chattanooga TN 37405; or to The Church of the Good Shepherd at 211 Franklin Road Lookout Mountain, TN 37350.
Due to COVID-19 health restrictions, the family will hold a small, private memorial. A celebration of Corinne’s life is planned for summer 2021.
Please visit www.heritagechattanooga.com to share words of comfort to the family.
Arrangements by Heritage Funeral Home, 7454 E. Brainerd Rd.
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