An Angels Camp woman who fought a public battle with skin cancer died Thursday at age 38.
Catherine Cornish, diagnosed with melanoma in 2006, won the Miss Calaveras pageant in 1992 and owned the Little Angels Preschool in Angels Camp. She wrote a blog at CaringBridge.com about her struggle with cancer and also a bi-weekly column for ThePineTree.net website.
“She was just very open and honest about her cancer and her treatment,” said Calaveras County Fair CEO Laurie Giannini.
Giannini served as the Miss Calaveras pageant co-director with her sister Amy the year Cornish won.
“She was a tap dancer,” Giannini said. “She was extremely talented and very confident.”
Cornish became the co-emcee for pageants in recent years.
“There is no sense going through the treatment unless you keep living as normally as you can,” Cornish told The Union Democrat in a September interview.
Giannini said Cornish served as a valuable role model for the pageant contestants.
“She was very inspiring to the young women,” she said. “She was such a fighter and conducted herself with such grace.”
Her struggle with cancer drew a massive outpouring of support, including a “Mr. Calaveras” pageant as a fundraiser for her medical expenses.
Cornish’s faith played a central role in her life and her final battle. She served as a lay eucharistic minister at St. James Episcopal Church in Sonora, and more recently at First Baptist Church in Angels Camp.
In her next-to-last CaringBridge post on Jan. 20, she wrote: “I strongly believe that this horrible disease is to be used. It is to be used to bring people closer to God… closer to their families… closer to their children. It is to inspire people to live each day to the fullest.”
Her survivors include parents Larry and Diane Cornish, of Murphys, brother Trevor Cornish, of Sonora, and son Jonah Webster, 10, who attends Christian Family Learning Center in Angels Camp.
A celebration of life is to be held at 1 p.m. Saturday, March 16, at Foothill Community Church in Angels Camp.
Donations to the Melanoma Research Foundation are requested in lieu of flowers.