Editor’s note: For this year’s Black History Month, Greater Union Life Center is sponsoring banners along Woodland Boulevard in DeLand honoring 16 individuals who have made a positive impact on the city of DeLand, and Volusia County.
While Milton Corley was a DeLand native, he met the woman who would become his wife, Rutha Corley, when the two were students at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University in Tallahassee.
Rutha studied library science, while Milton studied agricultural science and was a member of the ROTC. The two were married after they graduated from college in 1967, just before Milton joined the Army.
He went on to be stationed all over the world, from Vietnam to Puerto Rico to Germany. Over the course of 23 years, he rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel. His family even had the opportunity to come with him to Germany, where Rutha worked in Department of Defense schools.
“We have two sons, and they were there with us,” she said, “so we had the opportunity to do a lot of touring.”
The family were able to show their sons landmarks all around Europe, like the Leaning Tower of Pisa and more.
Back home, the Corleys have always been involved in their community.
Milton taught dropout prevention and science at Campbell Middle School and DeLand Middle School, and he has been heavily involved with his fraternity, Kappa Alpha Psy, and served as the director of its Guide Right program targeted at helping young men. Milton also served on the City of DeLand’s Citizens Advisory Committee and played a role in getting sewer connections and streetlights to parts of the Spring Hill community.
Rutha Corley worked as a media specialist and librarian at DeLand Middle School and Lyman High School in Seminole County. She helped organize Black History presentations and displays to “expose young people to Black culture,” Rutha said.
She has also remained involved in her sorority, Delta Sigma Theta, the FAMU alumni association — like her husband — the Electralytes Charity Club and the local area NAACP.
The two remain connected to their churches, too. Rutha attends Hart Temple Church of God and Christ, while Milton attends Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church.
The Corleys have two sons, five grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.
“We’re grateful to God for giving us the opportunity to do the things we’ve done, and we’re still in the community,” Rutha Corley said. “We are honored.”