Coping with Grief
We would like to offer our sincere support to anyone coping with grief. Enter your email below for our complimentary daily grief messages. Messages run for up to one year and you can stop at any time. Your email will not be used for any other purpose.
Mrs. Willie Cornelia Beard was born June 2, 1936, to George Isaac and Estella Sykes Bryant in Jackson, Tennessee. Both her parents preceded her in death, as well as her brothers—George Eldredge Bryant, Henry Henderson Bryant, and James Arthur Sykes.
Cornelia (as she preferred to be called) moved from Tennessee to Carbondale, Illinois in 1951 with her mother, brother Henry and sister Maggie Lee. The teenager met Charlie Reen Beard in 1952 (“sweetie” as she would later call him) and they married on October 26, 1957. The couple had seven children here in St. Louis, Missouri. Charlie preceded her in death October 28, 1975. She never remarried.
Cornelia had a special gift in caring-for and styling hair. She was known for doing the hair of various girls in the town where she grew up. That gift led her to the pursuit for her cosmetology license, which she received in 1957. Cornelia had the ability to do everything under the umbrella of cosmetology work but chose to specialize in the gift she was known for in her youth—hairstyling. She became the “hairdresser” for many people, especially for local members in the Church of God in Christ. Cornelia’s unassuming nature in the public-eye made her most nervous about her work when she was asked to style the hair of the late—Shirley Owens, wife to the late Bishop Chandler D. Owens of New Jersey. That encounter began a special long-distance bond between the two women that lasted until Owens’ death. Cornelia’s work also reached beyond living clients to the deceased when she was commissioned to style the hair of a family friend in place of the funeral home’s own staff.
Though Cornelia confessed her belief in Christ early in life, she often expressed that she didn’t believe she came into more of the knowledge of what it truly meant to live the fullness of a spirit-filled life until in the 1970s when she was invited and taken by a friend to the former Grace World Outreach which is now Grace Church St. Louis in Maryland Heights, Missouri. She visited there often and shared that is where she received the gift of the Holy Spirit during her first visit; however, her home church remained Bostick Temple Church of God in Christ where she raised her children.
As a member of Bostick Temple, Cornelia served in many capacities prior to her late senior years, not limited to—Sunday School teacher for the young adult group, YPWW teacher, Prayer and Bible Band teacher and assistant under the late Mother Evelyn Glenn, and Vacation Bible School teacher. Her service well extended beyond the walls of the church to being a “mother image” to young women as well as young men who confided in her within her home. Cornelia, who was also a great cook, was known for having young men of the church break bread with her own children at her table.
Cornelia has overcome insurmountable challenges in life, like completing the raising of seven children independently that ranged in ages two to seventeen after the death of her “sweetie,” and overcoming colon cancer in 2003. After the onset of other health challenges which began in late 2020, God made His decision to transition her from this life February 3, 2024.
Cornelia leaves her life’s memories to her sister Maggie Lee Scoggins of Memphis, Tennessee; her children Charles Lamont Beard, Jr (Belinda), Angelo Marquette Beard (Glendora), William James Beard Sr (Toni), Antonio Alphonso Beard, Denise Maria Beard, Charlotte Renée Beard, and Cornelia Lynn Beard (her house mate); her grandchildren Angela Beard, William “James” Beard Jr, LaTonya Beard, Jeffrey Beard, Charles “Lamont” Beard III, April Beard, Joel Beard, Whitney Beard, Eulonda Burk (Devon), Christopher Beard, Melissa Beard, and Greenay Harris; 14 great grandchildren; her nephew and nieces Agnes Jacobson, Karla Fayne (Johnny), Donna Scoggins, and Cory Scoggins (Una); many nephews and nieces by marriage; cousins who clung to her as “Aunt Cornelia”—Deborah Smith and Cornell White; sister-in-love Mary Elizabeth Woods; and a host of other relatives and friends.