Through Grandpa’s Eyes

Roy Lee Cornatzer, has lived in Clemmons for 90 years. Since 1932, he experienced his childhood, adulthood, raising children and grandchildren, and much more right here within Forsyth County. This town has so many memories for him, and he has really seen it grow and change in his 90 years. 

Grandpa was born and raised right down Idols Road where he and his family lived in a house on a hill. He has fond memories of his family and things they did around the house. His mother had a cast iron skillet that she used to feed the family through his life. This skillet still hangs in his living room today. His mother fried the fish that he caught from the river. Not only did she feed her family with that skillet, but the train hoppers as well. There was a train right next to their house, and many trainhoppers knocked on their door. As they begged for food, Grandpa’s mother made them something right then and never turned away a single beggar. 

That heart of caring for people that she had continued in Grandpa. If you have met Roy Lee, you know his heart is gold and his life is lived loving everyone around him. He has always been an incredible gardener, and one way that he loves on people is making sure that everyone has enough tomatoes. 

Growing up, Grandpa went fishing in the creek, caught rabbits and enjoyed recess at school. He attended Clemmons School for all of his school years, which is now known as the Historic Broyhill. He was in school there until the 11th grade. Through his high school years, driving the school bus was his daily duty. Back then, he explained that you drove everyone to school on the school bus and took the bus home with you. 

When Roy Lee was 18, he met and married the love of his life, Jo Ann Cornatzer. They met through a friend setting them up. Granny and Grandpa spent 69 years living in love in Forsyth County. He tells the story of their wedding day. They ran out of gas on the way to being married at the courthouse. After they were married on March 23, 1951, they stopped at McDonald’s for a 10-cent hamburger! That was the first time they ever had McDonald’s, and they enjoyed their honeymoon in Asheville. 

Grandpa spent his days working on the construction plant for Piedmont Construction Company. Most of the roads that we drive through town, Grandpa will explain that he was there helping pave them. Granny spent her days working in the R.J. Reynolds tobacco plant. She worked in the factory as well as gave people tours of the operation. 

Though so much has changed in this town, Grandpa has not. He is still the most caring and selfless man you will meet. He teaches us all so much by the way he lives, not getting worried about things but just loving the people around him, eating good BBQ and watching “Andy Griffith.”



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