In Memory of




Obituary for Joyce Gwenette Burton-Cornish

Our world has forever changed with the loss of Ms. Joyce. She remained strong and feisty to the end. The joy of knowing she would be joining her mother, father, and baby brother in heaven was all the strength she needed to leave her family and loved ones to carry on without her.

Joyce was a Christian and accepted Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior at a very young age. She lived a devoted, humble, and proud life based on her teachings and upbringing in Wachapreague, Virginia. Born on the Eastern Shore of Virginia, Joyce was the second child born to James, III and Drucilla Bailey Burton. Her older brother Clifton, passed away in infancy, but he was never forgotten by Joyce. She named her youngest son after his uncle in heaven.

Educated at Burton’s School and Mary N. Smith High School, Joyce became a talented typist and this led to an impressive career as a secretary and administrative assistant. She was employed by the Talbot County Public School system for over 30 years to which she brought her experiences working for a state government office and various corporate companies throughout the 1960’s and 70’s.

In addition to her skills as a typist, Joyce was an accomplished pianist, and she could sing. Never one to offer her services, she was often asked to play the piano for services or sing a solo, which she did beautifully but always requiring some encouragement. She never disappointed and delighted many with her musical gifts and her beautiful singing voice.

Continuing in her love of the Lord and dedication to the church, in 1958 Joyce married a young pastor to become the first lady of several congregations within the United Methodist Church’s Eastern Shore conference. Motherhood quickly followed and, in the end, she had four adoring children – three sons and a daughter. She faced the challenges and joys of being a wife, mother, first lady, and working outside the home without hesitation. This was not an easy feat in the 1960’s and 70’s; therefore, it is no surprise that she became an example to the many young women that she would encountered. Her grace, kindness, and beauty were gifts she never took for granted, as can be attested to by her humbleness.

In 1992, Joyce married James ‘Jimmy’ Cornish and at the time of her passing, they were just a few months away from their 30th wedding anniversary. Together they formed a life of service and community involvement to include membership in their church, civic clubs, and various organizations. She remained an active member of the United Methodist Church and Women’s Associations, sang in the gospel choir, worked to feed her fellow community members through the church, prepared church bulletins, and served on the custodial staff of the church they attended together for over 20 years. She was fondly referred to as ‘Matilda’ by family members in love and jest.

Joyce’s lifetime passions included: gardening, thrift shopping, crafting, traveling, and playing the piano.

To mourn her passing, Joyce leaves her husband, Jimmy Cornish from Cambridge, MD; sons, Frank W. Robinson, Jr. (Teresa) from Winnipeg, Canada, Lawrence Craig Robinson from Seaford, DE, and Gerald Clifton Robinson, Sr. (Donna) from Seaford, DE; and her daughter, Gwenette Robinson Murrell (Byron) from Orlando, FL. She is also survived by her sister, Reneta Burton Rogers from Rehoboth, DE; her brothers, James W. Burton, IV (Torann) from Chester, PA and Lawrence G. Burton, Sr. (Ida) from Rancho Santa Margarita, CA; sister-in-law, Sarah ‘Jean’ Ford (Glenn, Sr.) from Cambridge, MD; 14 grandchildren; 28 great grandchildren; 5 great, great-grandchildren; and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, other relatives, friends, and caregivers.

In addition to her parents and baby brother, Joyce was preceded in death by her in-laws, Leila and George Cornish; sister-in-law, Frances Stewart; and stepdaughter, Gayle Benson.

Lovingly submitted,
The Family