January 24, 2022, 94, Mount Olive –
Lula Mae Smalley, 94, Mt Olive, peacefully transitioned from this life to her heavenly home on Monday, January 24, 2022, in Mableton, Georgia.
Lula Smalley, daughter of the late Babe and Eloise Kornegay, was born on August 3, 1927 in Duplin County, North Carolina. At a young age, Lula met the love of her life, Paul Smalley, a soldier in the US Marines in Jacksonville, North Carolina. After his service, the two moved to Paul’s home near his family in Rhode Island. Soon thereafter, they moved to Connecticut where they raised their 3 children. They lived in New London for a few years and then in Deep River for about 20 years. She was an Evangelist with the Church of God in Christ and traveled throughout the East Coast spreading the Word of God. She helped Paul with his work at OIC (Opportunities Industrialization Centers) which helped people receive life and job skills training. She participated in boycotts of companies that did not practice equal opportunity employment. In the early 70’s, she successfully fought to become the first black homeowner in Deep River. She then helped others become homeowners in their communities too. She loved landscaping and was known for having a beautiful yard that always had green grass, fruit and nut trees, grapevines and flowers that bloomed year-round.
After Paul’s retirement, as promised, he moved her back to North Carolina. They settled in Lula’s mother’s home in Mt Olive. Lula became an advocate for change by working on the campaigns for candidates committed to change. She worked for town Commissioners, a Wayne County Commissioner, and NC House of Representatives and Superior Court Judges. She also served on the executive committee for Explore Your World Youth Foundation which helped children expand their knowledge of the world and to go places to see and learn new things. She continued an amazing yard in Mt. Olive too. Lula and Paul were happily married for 56 years before he preceded her in Death (2013).
Lula later lived in Mableton, Georgia with her daughter and son-in-law, Pernell and Ron. She landscaped a beautiful yard there too. She made many new friends, attended Cobb County Senior Center, became certified as a Diabetes advocate, took Zumba on Fridays and won an award for Bocce Ball in the Senior Special Olympics. Even in her 90’s when she couldn’t get around like before, Lula continued to pray and give financially to organizations that help feed the homeless, provide clothes, homes, and job opportunities to those in need. Lula was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award for her outstanding contributions from Calalus Charities, Atlanta, GA.
Lula not only raised her children, she supported and helped raise her grandchildren, great grand-children and many god-children, always teaching them to keep God first, to strive for the best and don’t settle for less. Known to many as “Mama Lula”, she never met a stranger. She was a SHERO admired for her courage and strength. Mama Lula will be remembered for being a prayer warrior, helping people, her upbeat personality, free spirit, her funny stories, her laugh, her stylish dress and many hats, her praise for God, her dance, joy and the love she always shared with others.
Lula was preceded in death by her parents, her husband, 2 sisters Annie Manuel and Mary Ann Johnson, and her 2 grandsons, Jabez Ayman Moore and David Earl Kornegay. She is survived by her three children, son Kenneth Kornegay Sr. (Jeri Lynn) of Waterford, CT, daughter Pernell Smalley Brickey (Ron) of Mableton, GA and son Patrick Paul Smalley (Amber) of East Hartford, 9 grandchildren, Felicia Cooley, Kenneth Kornegay Jr, Stephanie Kornegay, Kathy Brisker, Durel Smith, Quinton Smalley and Scarlette Smalley, 11 great-grandchildren, 16 great-great-grandchildren, and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, and God-children.
A private graveside service will be held at Wayne Memorial Park for the family. Flowers and memorial gifts may be directed to the Tyndall Funeral Home, 1005 N. Church St, Mount Olive, NC 28365.