Lela Alma Cornish Riley was born January 15, 1931 to John Morgan Cornish and Lula Alma (Williard) Cornish in Monette, Arkansas. She was a “Farm Girl.” She loved the cotton patch and all things cotton. She met the love of her life, Tom Riley, Sr. as a result of crop failures in central Arkansas due to the Boll Weevil infestation of the late 1940s. Tom left home for the fertile fields of northeast Arkansas and found both work and a sweetheart. He worked for a prosperous young farmer, Earnest Cornish and married his sister. The couple was wed October 27, 1951. They moved their family back to central Arkansas and the small town of El Paso in the fall of 1960 and their mortal remains are there.
Lela was an artist, a portrait artist with the uncanny ability to represent without question the subject of her art and provide them with an ethereal beauty found by the eye of the artist. She was a maven of the kitchen. No gourmet food service could match her apple pie or cinnamon rolls. She was a marvel at biscuits and gravy as well. She was also a fashionista. She was a member of the Sears women’s wear team at McCain Mall serving a client base depending on her for her fashion sense and artistic eye. She was also bilingual. She taught herself Spanish to converse with the Hispanic workers on her father’s farm.
She was a farm wife and partner, a business executive and paymaster for Quality Production Machining a family business. She was a spectacular Mom to two children, Tommy Jr. (Judy) and Ruth Ann. She was a GRAND mother to five: Jay Johnson (Julie), Sean Vines (Krystal), Lee Riley (Julie), John Mark Johnson (Megan) and Erin Leach (Will). She was GREAT grandmother to Elizabeth, Miles, Gabe, Willow, Sarah Margaret, Jonah and Jack. She was the last remaining member of her immediate family, two brothers Earnest and Clarence and six sisters, Jewel, Love, Lula, Ollie, Letha and Myrna. She was a favorite Aunt to 45 first order nieces and nephews and was much loved by all.
The last thing you should know about Lela was a promise that she made to herself early in her teenage years. She promised herself that if she could afford it, her freezer would never be empty of ice cream and in as many flavors as she could manage to store. Kith and Kin knew this fact well and were advantaged by it. She always had a scoop and a bowl at the ready.
Services will begin with a short visitation at 9:30 Monday, February 8th with services at 10:00 am on the grounds of the Blasingame Cemetery north of El Paso, AR. Covid 19 rules will be observed and masks are required for attendees.
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