Published 9:57 am Tuesday, March 21, 2023
Coach Cornell Torrence was a native of Lee County and a 1956 graduate of Alabama State University with a bachelor’s degree in physical education. His only job was teaching in the Escambia County (Ala.) schools, where he taught from 1956-1995. He was a physical education teacher and coached football and basketball at Escambia County Training School from 1956-1970. Torrence also taught drivers education and coached football and basketball at Escambia County High School from 1970-1995.
During this time, he compiled 545 wins. He eventually became head basketball coach at Escambia County High School. Because of his legacy of service and excellence the school gymnasium was renamed Cornell Torrence Gymnasium on Feb. 12, 2015.
While matriculating at Alabama State University, he met and married the love of his life, Mavis Banks on Aug. 9, 1954. He also pledged Phi Beta Sigma fraternity while attending Alabama State University. He served in the U.S. Army from May 1949 until September 1952 (honorably discharged).
Torrence dedicated his life to helping others with dedicated service in the community. For 45 years, he was a dedicated lifeguard at the Houston Avery Park Summer Youth Program. Later he became director of the Houston Avery Park.
Torrence was a founding member of the Progressive Civic and Recreational Club Inc. (PCRC) of Atmore. The PCRC served the less fortunate in the community by providing food and sponsoring youth sports programs to keep children engaged. He served as councilman for District 2 for eight years on the Atmore City Council.
He was a faithful member of Gaines Chapel A.M.E. Church since 1956, where he served as a Steward until his health failed. Torrence transitioned on March 20, 2023, at his residence surrounded by his loving family and dedicated caregivers.
Torrence leaves to mourn his loving and devoted wife of 68 years, Mavis Banks Torrence; and his legacy, Dr. Marian Y. Torrence of Pensacola, Fla., CDR Connie (Anthony) King USNRET of Prairieville, La., Jeffrey (Dr. Latoya) Torrence of Dothan, the Rev. Dr. Douglas S. Forbes II of Pensacola, Thurman (Paige) Thomas of Austin, Texas, Torrence Thomas of Austin, Taylor (Willie) Richardson of Douglasville, Ga., Jaala Torrence of Tuscaloosa, Diamond King of Baton Rouge, La., Benjamin D. Forbes of Pensacola, Jeffrey Torrence II of Dothan, Anthem Thomas and Koah Thomas.
Also mourning the loss of this great man are loving cousins, Edward White Sr. of Auburn, Nathaniel White of Potomac, Md., Ethel White of Auburn and Gwen Prater of Farmington Hill, Mich.; loving and devoted godchildren, Ruby Nell White, Tabitha White-Thomas, Yolanda (Jerome) Webster, Janie E. Glover, Dale M. Ash, Herbert M. Payne and Victor Payne; and other relatives and friends.
Pallbearers will be the brothers of Sigma Phi Beta Fraternity.
A funeral service will be held tomorrow, Thursday, March 23, 2023 at 11 a.m. at Cornell Torrence Gymnasium in Atmore.
Inhumation will be held in Fairview Cemetery.