Mary Ellen Corbett
March 20, 1941 – May 7, 2020
Mary Ellen Corbett 1941-2020
Mary Ellen Corbett spent her life writing people’s stories. May 7, 2020, the universe placed its final punctuation – a journalist’s “-30-“ – on the remarkable story that was hers. She was 79.
Corbett had a natural “nose for news” and became a rule-breaking investigative journalist whose career spanned 68 years. Thrice nominated for a Pulitzer Prize and the winner of several awards for journalism excellence, Corbett’s distinguished writing career began at age 11 with the publication of her poetry. As a young adult, intrepid Corbett made her way to the Los Angeles area to further her writing career. She worked for newspapers and magazines in Illinois and California, and eventually owned a weekly newspaper – The Maui Surf – in the late 1960s. She was editor/publisher of the Valley Grove News in the San Diego area in the early 1970s. She also handled public relations for a hotel chain and eventually owned another weekly newspaper – The Bisbee News (in Bisbee, AZ) – with her beloved husband and fellow journalist Lewis Little, whom she dubbed her “funnypaperman.” Her byline appeared in 400 American daily newspapers, including The Washington Post, The Boston Globe and The Chicago Tribune. She is a first-ever winner of the “Best Feature Writing” honor by the American Society of Newspaper Editors.
She studied journalism at Fordham University, taught college-level journalism in southern Arizona and became a well-loved mentor of fledgling journalists.
Born in Eagle River, Wisconsin, in 1941 to Myron George Mohr and Lila Margueritte Mohr, Corbett spent her early childhood in Wisconsin and her adolescence in Galesburg, Illinois. She became a staunch feminist (much to her parents’ chagrin), a human rights champion and a pilot. In her later years, she worked at a law firm in New Mexico and was working on two book-length manuscripts: “Half Souls,” and “Run, Fetch Willard.”
She married Harold Corbett the mid-60s, and they owned The Maui Surf together. She married Lewis Little in the mid-70s, and they were married 45 years. Corbett and Little loved the news business, restoring old homes, doting on their dogs – especially cocker spaniels – and opening their hearts and homes to countless loved ones. They were smitten with the Southwest and New England, making homes in San Diego; Greenwich, Connecticut; Brandon, Vermont; Borrego Springs, California; Bisbee, Arizona; Silver City, New Mexico; and Casa Grande, Arizona. In 2015, the couple moved to Fort Collins, Colorado, to be near family.
Corbett – known as “Mellen” to most – was a fierce friend and a deep thinker. She had a unique personal style, was a brilliant decorator and watercolorist, a consummate bibliophile and was known for her outrageous sense of humor and her penchant for Peeps, M&Ms, all things chocolate and Coca-Cola.
Corbett is preceded in death by her parents, her husband Lewis Little and two children Edward Lewis and Devon Ann. Corbett is survived by three siblings: Virginia Mohr-Callahan of Fort Collins, Colorado; Peggy Hedglen of Durum, North Carolina; and Wayne Mohr of Galesburg, Illinois. Corbett is survived by four sons and two daughters: Steve Little, Scott Little, Alan Little, Eric Miklas, Terri Roetker and Pamela Johnson. Corbett is also survived by one grandson, eight granddaughters and one great-grandson: Mathew, Dina, Karla, Auburn, Melissa, Rose, Virginia, Kristen, and Aislin. Great-grandson Cliff was born to Melissa in April. Corbett is also survived by former husband Harold Corbett’s daughter Cathy Reiling and niece Peggy Jean Kezar.
In lieu of flowers or cards, her family urges you to do something she spent her life doing: send a letter to a loved one, call a friend and share a memory, read the New York Times, support a cause you believe in, read a book, paint a picture, laugh out loud and take a lingering look at the people you love and the sweet old world around you. “It goes so fast.”
Memorial services will be held at later dates/various locations as COVID-19 allows. Peeps and M&Ms will be served.
No public services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.
Mary Ellen Corbett
have a memory or condolence to add?ADD A MEMORY