Partner Monte Edgar Brown

Queer Places:
314 NE 12th Street, Oklahoma City
56 E Bellevue Pl, Chicago, IL 60611
160 E Ontario St, Chicago, IL 60611
Mandel's Department Store, 1 N State St, Chicago, IL 60602
1111 38th Ave E, Seattle, WA 98112
338 39th Ave E, Seattle, WA 98112
Lincoln Cemetery Lincoln, Washington County, Arkansas, USA

William Ward Corley (January 31, 1920 - March 16, 1962) was an American artist. “The Lavender Palette: Gay Culture and the Art of Washington State” at the Cascadia Museum in Edmonds was a packed art show and a powerful history lesson. Museum curator David F. Martin put together artwork by dozens of gay men and women who often, just a few short decades ago, had to hide who they were in order to express themselves artistically. The exhibit closed on January 26, 2020. The featured artists included Edmonds native Guy Anderson, illustrator Richard Bennett, Ward Corley, Thomas Handforth, Mac Harshberger, Jule Kullberg, Delbert J. McBride, Orre Nelson Nobles, Malcolm Roberts, potter Lorene Spencer, Sarah Spurgeon, ceramicist Virginia Weisel, Clifford Wright, and also one-time Woodway resident Morris Graves, Leo Kenney, Mark Tobey, Lionel Pries, Leon Derbyshire, and Sherrill Van Cott.

Morris Graves called artists Jan Thompson, Richard Gilkey, and Ward Corley, the playful Otters; with them he was loving, funny, generous, and intense loyal, and they all rallied to his care if necessary.

William Ward Corley was born in Brighton, Iowa, on 31 January 1920 to Ollie Owen Corley and Alice Faye Meade. In the 1940s he worked for the Mandel's Department Store at Madison and State Street, Chicago. After WWII, Ward Corley moved to Seattle in 1945 for an unknown reason, and slowly became part of Seattle's gay artistic circles. He was briefly involved with architect Robert Shields and later had a longterm relationship with Monte Edgar Brown, who had a distinguished career as a captain in the Marine Corps during WWII. It is not known if the two men met in the marines or if Brown was the reason Corley moved to Seattle. Monte Brown came from a prominent and successful family that owned and operated the Daily Journal of Commerce, where Ward found employment until 1959. In 1959 he was diagnosed with a terminal liver disease. He went immediately in California for treatment from a liver specialist. In a letter to Morris Graves dated April 21, 1959, Corley wrote: "My week-end in San Francisco was made extremely pleasant because of Monte (prior to becoming set up here in Palo Alto). He had me in the finest suite, as those things go, in the St. Francis, even asking them to give me quarters that were not modern, but with antique furniture or at least French in feeling... The result was a king of high-powered almost savage elegance that was so pleasant under the circumstances." Unlike Corley, his boyfriend Monte Brown had a very supportive family in Seattle who were aware of their relationship. Ward returned to Seattle to live with Monte in a home built directly behind Monte's parents' that included a studio where he could paint. They continued to support Ward through his illness and even cared for him in their own home when he was particularly weak.

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