Local News

Raleigh couple dies days apart from COVID-19

Posted January 18, 2021 6:34 p.m. EST
Updated January 18, 2021 7:13 p.m. EST

— A well-known and well-loved Raleigh couple died within days of each other last week from COVID-19.

Fred Corlett, 71, was a familiar face for decades in local theater. His wife, Diane Corlett, 70, was an Episcopal priest who championed social justice causes.

"They were the two most loving people that I ever had the pleasure to know," their son, David Corlett, said Monday. "Anybody they helped out, nothing but love. They were very compassionate, very compassionate people."

Diane Corlett contracted coronavirus while recovering in a local hospital from an unrelated infection, her son said. Always by her side, Fred Corlett also caught the virus. She died on Jan. 10, and he died four days later.

"He loved her so much. You looked at them and could just tell," said Heather Strickland, director of Raleigh Little Theatre.

The couple met at Broughton High School in the 1960s and married in 1971. After earning a doctorate of ministry from Columbia University, Diane Corlett became the first woman rector of the Church of the Nativity in north Raleigh.

"Her homilies just woke me up," said Ann Conlon-Smith, who joined the church in 1993 after moving to the Triangle from New York.

"Every Sunday, she held nothing back," Conlon-Smith said. "She talked women's rights, equality, all criminal justice. She was a big activist among people of faith against the death penalty."

Fred Corlett was just as mesmerizing on the stage.

"He was an everyman. You could cast him in just about anything, and he would attack it with equal enthusiasm and talent," said Jerome Davis, director of Burning Coal Theatre Company. "No matter what was going on, no matter what angst was going on, Fred would be a rock in the middle of it. He's really irreplaceable."

"He was probably one of the hardest working actors in the Triangle," Strickland agreed. "He loved the art, but then he loved the artist in each one of us. He wanted to make sure he was always supporting us."

Funeral services aren't yet complete, but David Corlett said his parents will be cremated and their ashes placed together at the Church of the Nativity in Raleigh.

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