Duvon Clough Corbitt, Sr. (1901-1982) Duvon Corbitt was born on July 4, 1901, near Pearson, Georgia. He attended Asbury College, graduating in 1923. He received an M.A. from Emory University and a Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina.
Roberta Day Corbitt (1902-1974) Roberta Day was born in Blue Mound, Kansas, on October 20, 1902. She attended Bethel Academy in Wilmore, Kentucky, graduating in 1922. While a student at Asbury College, she became engaged to Duvon Corbitt, and the two were married in 1924. (Roberta continued her studies intermittently, finishing a B.A. and M.A. from the University of Chicago on the same day in 1941 and completing a Ph.D. from the University of Kentucky in 1955.)
The Corbitts moved around a lot in the early years of their marriage, teaching and studying in Georgia and North Carolina. In September 1927, the Corbitts moved to Havana, Cuba, as missionaries, where Duvon taught at Candler College, a Methodist school, for two years. (They would later return to Candler, where both taught from 1931-1943.)
During World War II, the Corbitts taught history at Columbia College in South Carolina (1943-45). After the war, they taught one more year at Candler College before coming to Asbury College in the Fall of 1946. Duvon taught history and Roberta taught Spanish at Asbury until 1974.
In 1956, Cuban President Fulgencio Batista honored Dr. Duvon Corbitt(along with 30 other foreign doctors, including Dr. Jonas Salk) with the Carlos J. Finlay Medal. (Carlos Finlay was a Cuban doctor who was instrumental in combating yellow fever at the end of the 19th century. Dr. Corbitt did considerable research to call attention to Finlay’s work, which had previously been largely ignored.) During the Cuban Missle Crisis in the 1960’s, Dr. Corbitt was called to Washington, D.C., as an advisor to the President on the situation in Cuba.
During their time at Asbury, the Corbitts worked with the Nicholasville Mission, which served the underprivileged of Jessamine County. While there, Roberta came in contact with some people from a high-poverty area of the mountains of Eastern Kentucky. The Corbitts visited the mountains often from 1961-1974 and founded the Wildwood Chapel Mission along the south fork of the Red River in Powell County. They also helped found the People’s Mission to the Cherokee Indians in Robbinsville, North Carolina.
Roberta Corbitt passed away on August 31, 1974, and Duvon Corbitt died April 9, 1982. Both are interred in the Wilmore Cemetery. In 1978 a new men’s dormitory at Asbury College was named in honor of the Corbitts. Corbitt Hall was reappropriated in 1984 to house the college’s Media Communication department. Duvon (in 1957) and Roberta (in 1972) were also honored with the Asbury College Alumni “A” Award.
Materials by Dr. DuvonCorbitt Available at the Kinlaw Library and/or Asbury College Archives:
Bio written by Matt Kinnell