The Archives was saddened to learn this week of the passing of Corajoyce Nancy Lane, of Bloomfield Hills, who worked at Cranbrook for over five decades. Raised by parents who taught her that women didn’t, and shouldn’t, work, Corajoyce (who was headstrong even at a young age!) tried to convince her parents to let her get a job. Her first thought was airplane pilot, followed by truck driver so that she could drive across the country! Instead, at the age of 20, without her parents’ permission, she responded to an ad in the Birmingham Eccentric for a photographer’s assistant at the Cranbrook Foundation. Corajoyce was offered the job by staff photographer Harvey Croze, and finally received consent from her parents. The job only lasted two months, which she followed with a job working for Margaret Auger, then headmistress of Kingswood School. In 1948, Corajoyce married Robert Rauss (they honeymooned at a dude ranch in Colorado) and two years later, left Cranbrook to become a stay-at-home mom to her daughter.
In 1961, Corajoyce returned to Cranbrook, this time securing a job as Henry Scripps Booth’s personal secretary. As she and Henry became lifelong friends, she was given more responsibility and became the manager of Henry’s personal estate. During her tenure at Cranbrook, Corajoyce met Carl Milles, Zoltan Sepeshy and Eliel Saarinen among others. George and Ellen Booth used to drop by Kingswood School, often unannounced, and Corajoyce also met visitors including Isaac Stern, Leonard Bernstein, and Princess Christina of Sweden.
Soon after Henry’s death in 1988, Corajoyce began work at the Cranbrook Archives as the part-time bookkeeper. She volunteered additional time and took on the task of organizing, with the help of a core of volunteers, the Booth family photographs, creating photo albums that are housed in the Archives today. She worked tirelessly on compiling The Cranbrook Booth Family of America genealogy which required copious amounts of correspondence with various Booth family members. Her hard work and dedication earned her Cranbrook’s President’s Award for Excellence in 1990. Corajoyce remained a fixture at Cranbrook Archives until her retirement in 2007. She was once quoted as saying that she “lived a Cinderella life.” While Cranbrook has lost a dedicated employee, her love of Cranbrook and the work she accomplished here lives on in the Archives.
– Leslie S. Edwards, Head Archivist