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Carol Rossa Cordner

Birthplace: Manchester, Hartford, Connecticut, United States
Death: November 05, 2000 (59)
Vernon, Tolland, Connecticut, United States
Place of Burial: Manchester, Hartford, Connecticut, United States
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Thomas J. Cordner and Ethel Brookings
Wife of Private User
Mother of Private; Private and Private User

Occupation: Ordained Minister, United Church of Christ, Musical author, composer and performer
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Carol Cordner

Carol was born and raised in Manchester, Conn., the daughter of the late Thomas J. and Ethel (Brookings) Cordner and was a graduate of Manchester schools. She received an associate degree from The University of Hartford (1963), bachelors degree from Eastern Connecticut State University (1983), and the Master of Divinity degree from Andover Newton Theological School (1990).

Carol's love of poetry and music was a major theme of her life and ministry. She studied piano as a child, and organ as a teenager with the organist at South Methodist Church in Manchester where her family were members. This led, at the age of nineteen, to her becoming organist at Windsorville Methodist Church. Later, after she married Gordon and gave birth to their first child, the family moved to Andover and in 1968 she became the organist and senior choir director at The First Congregational Church of Andover. Beginning in 1973 she formed and directed Junior and Cherub choirs in Andover and in 1978 a junior choir at St. Columba R.C. church in Columbia with the assistance of her dear friend and fellow musician Carol MacKay, of Andover. The two women taught the children so thoroughly that they sang in two parts without sheet music, and with only Carol Howard’s guitar for accompaniment. They performed monthly in their churches and also at many community and area religious functions.

During all this time Carol was writing poetry and lyrics and composing music for both. She was a prolific author and composer with over 400 known compositions (with works still being found among her papers). After expressing an interest in learning to play the guitar for accompaniment, an uncle gave her an old one which she taught herself to play. This enabled bringing her message and music to a much wider audience. In the early 1970s she self-published two books of her songs. Rather than selling copies of the first one, she gave most of them away; her first effort inspiring an anonymous gift which enabled the publication of the second. In 1975 she received an unexpected bequest of $125 from her distant uncle Edward Duff , the exact amount needed to purchase her guitar “Edward” which replaced her very old and tired first one. She was accompanist for the Minstrel Maids and Ayre singing groups and founded The Rainy Day Trio with her friends Carol MacKay and Nancy Richards. Her early music was more inspirational than religious. But with time it evolved, culminating with the hymns she wrote for an independent study in hymn writing at ANTS. At the time, faculty members could not remember anyone else attempting such a project.

At the age of ten, Carol lost her mother to breast cancer and at sixteen accepted Jesus Christ as her Savior at a Billy Graham rally in New York City. These events strongly influenced the rest of her life--particularly after she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1978. She underwent a mastectomy, radiation followed by a year of chemotherapy, and then a second mastectomy. As with so many cancer patients, these events caused her to examine her life, and with prayer and the help of her spiritual advisors, determine how best to use whatever time she had left. She was feeling an ever stronger pull to devote time to sharing her message through music and preaching, so she resigned as organist. She had started preaching as a lay fill-in at Andover and preached in several Connecticut UCC churches, including the two she eventually served as pastor. She also spoke and sang in prisons, hospitals, other churches and many Christian Women’s Clubs. These experiences strengthened her desire to seek ordination and full-time ministry. But how to accomplish this given her health, family and limited finances? Knowing the “the Lord will provide,” as He did when she needed a new guitar, she returned to college willing to take the journey one step at a time, confident that the way would be shown. Finding social work after ECSU unfulfilling, she made the final decision: to apply to Andover Newton.

After starting her studies at ANTS in the fall of 1985, she learned that the pastorate of South Windham Congregational Church was open. In the UCC, lay persons with the proper backgrounds can become either Commissioned or Licensed Ministers, which enables them to perform all the religious functions of an Ordained Minister. As a seminary student studying for the Master of Divinity degree, she was granted Commissioned Minister status and was called by South Windham, serving there into 1991. After graduating in 1990 she began searching for her ultimate objective -- a full time pastorate. Unfortunately, the cancer reoccurred while she was a candidate at Longmeadow Congregational Church in Auburn, NH. She informed its search committee of this but committee members still wanted to present her as their candidate. The congregation was informed after her candidate sermon; the vote to call was unanimous. Carol served there until in 1998, when, with her strength and endurance much reduced, she decided to seek a part-time pastorate in Connecticut to be close to her support base of family and friends. This brought her here, to Union, where she served until her death on All Saints Sunday, November 5, 2000.

Her ability to live 22 productive and happy years after her first cancer encounter was a source of joy and inspiration. She formed a mastectomy support group while at ESCU, and for years spoke and sang to women's organizations about the importance of her faith in dealing with her illness. Her ministry touched countless lives and continues to do so with her music being her living legacy. Even while dealing with the disease, she enjoyed white-water rafting and hiking, and traveled to Scotland and Northern Ireland where she met much of her father’s family. She was overjoyed to welcome three granddaughters into the family and her last act as a minister was to baptize her granddaughter Alyssa.

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Carol Cordner's Timeline

December 10, 1940
Manchester, Hartford, Connecticut, United States
November 5, 2000
Age 59
Vernon, Tolland, Connecticut, United States
Age 59
Manchester, Hartford, Connecticut, United States