Eleanor Petty Korczowski, 98, of Williamsburg, Virginia, died on February 22, 2023 surrounded by family at her home where she lived for 62 years. She was born November 18, 1924 in Cramerton, North Carolina and was raised in Gastonia, North Carolina. She was the daughter of Miller Ivan Petty and Katherine Simmons Petty. When she was seventeen, Eleanor left home to attend Sacred Heart Junior College in Belmont, North Carolina and in 1943 she was accepted to the nursing program at the Medical College of Virginia in Richmond. She earned her B.S. in Nursing in June of 1946, graduating second in her class. She practiced as a Certified Registered Nurse at MCV during the polio epidemic, volunteering for the demanding care of patients with infantile paralysis from 1945 to 1947 using the iron lung treatment. She came to Williamsburg, Virginia with several other nurses to assist in the opening of Bell Hospital on Cary Street. She was a dedicated and skillful nurse admired for her boundless energy, earning her the nickname “Spitfire” among her colleagues.
Eleanor met her husband John F. Korczowski in Williamsburg where he had returned for graduate school after his service in WWII. One day she walked by William and Mary’s old student union where John and a friend were sitting. It was love at first sight for John, in fact he turned to his friend immediately and said, “I’m going to marry that girl.” Unknown to John at that moment, he was going to fulfill a prediction his sister Mary was told by a tea-leaf reader in New York City years earlier—that John would meet and marry a fiery-tempered, green-eyed woman with a November birthday. Eleanor said when John found out she was born in November he almost fell off his chair.
In the 1940s their romance was an unusual union of North and South. John was a first generation Polish Catholic from New Jersey and Eleanor was a Southern Baptist from North Carolina. Despite cultural differences, the families quickly embraced and loved one another and their lives were enhanced by diverse traditions and many common values; Eleanor often joked that her mother eventually loved John more than she did her. Eleanor and John wed a year after that first meeting on August 21, 1948. In 1951 the couple and their young family moved to Norfolk, Virginia where they made many dear friends and happy memories. They returned to Williamsburg in 1961 after the birth of their fifth child and Eleanor and John became very involved in the community and St. Bede’s Church.
Eleanor never lost her passion for medicine. She regularly volunteered with the Red Cross blood drives and the March of Dimes. She was a fine home cook and well known for her baking and ever-present pitcher of iced tea. Many of her children’s sports teammates enjoyed her cinnamon buns after morning practices, swim meets, and field hockey games. Lucky was the William and Mary student, family friend, or co-worker who was invited for dinner.Eleanor lost her husband John suddenly when she was only 53 years old. She learned to drive, went back to work for many years at the Christmas Shop on Duke of Gloucester Street, and poured a tremendous amount of love and energy into being a mother and a grandmother.Eleanor loved being at home in Williamsburg at the heart and return-destination of her family. It is with the deepest appreciation and love that we honor her devoted caregivers who made it possible for her to remain in her home.
She could be feisty, sometimes struggled to stop working and have fun, and she was a world-class worrier, forever concerned about the welfare of her family as they embarked on all the journeys of their lives. But she was also a person of tremendous faith. Her grandchildren fondly remember sleeping over and listening to her pray for everyone before bed. Eleanor suffered from rheumatoid arthritis for much of her life, but she never stopped living with the energy and industrious fierceness that had earned her the nickname decades before. In her final years, her greatest moments of joy involved visits that included family dogs and great-grandchildren. Beautiful, intelligent, and generous, she dedicated her life to her family.
Eleanor is survived by her five children Michele Peters, John Michael Korczowski, Thomas John Korczowski and his wife Desiree, Christopher Petty Korczowski, and Mary K. Seery and her husband William Seery; as well as eight grandchildren, John Matthew Peters and his wife Lindsey, Katherine Anne Peters, Andrew James Peters and his wife Sarah, Michael Joseph Korczowski, Amalia Mourad Korczowski and her husband Peter Hammer, Eleanor Rose Seery, Audrey May Seery, and John Quentin Seery; and four great-grandchildren, Henry James Peters, Caroline Lisbeth Peters, Eleanor Reese Peters, and Amira Marie Mourad Hammer. She is also survived by her beloved brothers and sister, Larry Petty and his wife Linda, Jerry Petty, and Jane Petty Kendrick, and many nieces and nephews.
She is preceded in death by her husband John, her parents Katherine and Miller, as well as her beloved brothers Philip Petty and Quentin Petty, her son-in-law James Stephen Peters, and her sisters-in-law Geraldine Petty, Jean Petty, Audrey Petty, Mary Ellis, and Anne Dobranski, and many dear friends. In the final days of her long life, she said, “Well, I hope at the end of all this, we will be reunited in a state of profound happiness.” She will be dearly missed, but we are comforted by her joyful reunion with these loved ones.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests a contribution to Doctors Without Borders in Eleanor’s name.
Our Lady of Walsingham - Directions
520 Richmond Road
Williamsburg, VA 23185