Cora Dedrick Fillmore

Cora Dedrick, born December 15, 1876, was ordained a Unity minister in 1918 and married Unity cofounder Charles Fillmore in 1933. She contributed extensively to Unity thought with authored pieces. However, her diligent compilation of Charles Fillmore’s private papers may be her most notable contribution to Unity history.

Most of the handwritten letters, lecture notes, and even Charles’ informal scribblings that are now organized and housed at the Unity Archives at Unity Village came from Cora Fillmore. It was from these papers that Cora compiled Keep a True Lent and Atom-Smashing Power of Mind, two of Charles Fillmore’s most important literary contributions.

Cora directed the Silent Unity® program for a brief time then became the private secretary for both Charles and Myrtle Fillmore. Cora held this responsibility until Myrtle’s transition on October 6, 1931. She remained Charles’ secretary and they married two years later on New Year’s Eve, in the living room of Lowell Fillmore, Charles’ eldest son, at Unity Farm. Charles was 79 years old and Cora 57.

The day after their wedding, Charles and Cora left on a lengthy nationwide speaking tour to lecture on Unity teachings. Throughout the long trip she rarely left his side, watching over him during each stop along the way.

Cora, a strict vegetarian and nutritionist, monitored Charles’s diet based on her specific beliefs about what was best for the body, writes L.E. Meyer in “A Vacation With the Fillmores,” published in the January 1973 issue of Unity magazine. She planned and prepared meals regularly and Charles’ only digressions were ice cream, fish, and Coca-Cola. In response, according to the article, Cora said, “We must satisfy the little boy in him.”

Cora made a “special brew” she preferred to serve instead of cola products. She called it alfalfa tea. She picked leaves from alfalfa plants, and steeped them in water until just right before serving it. She took delight in seeing how people reacted when they tasted it.

As the couple traveled around the country, they would invariably pass a farm field with a crop of alfalfa. Charles would stop the car, telling his driver that he wanted to “let Cora out to graze a while.” Invariably, she returned to the car with her alfalfa leaves and a big smile.

In 1937 Cora collected a series of Unity magazine articles written between 1925 and 1926, and compiled them under the title “Following Jesus in Regeneration.” Eventually, these writings reappeared under the title Christ Enthroned in Man. In 1939 she served on the faculty of Unity School of Christianity.

In 1941 Charles and Cora coauthored Teach Us to Pray. The book focused on the attitude and process of prayer, and included work that had not been previously published. It remained popular for decades after publication.

New Thought leader Blaine Mays described Cora as a woman of great integrity, dignity, and refinement.

He and Cora became lifelong friends after Cora Fillmore offered to rent a room to him when he first came to Unity in 1951. She had love and respect for both Charles and Myrtle, Mays said. In a recent interview, Mays recalled that Cora was hesitant to marry Charles if it would create problems in the family. Only with assurances did she agree to marry him. During the four years he lived in Cora’s home, Mays said, he never heard her speak ill of anyone.

Cora never set out to make a name for herself or gain notoriety, Mays said, but preferred to support her husband and always referred to him as “Mr. Fillmore.”

They had been married 15 years when he made his transition on July 5, 1948. Cora continued her work in organizing and editing Charles’ unpublished papers.

Having become interested in Unity in 1910, Cora Dedrick Fillmore dedicated her entire adult life to Unity principles. After Charles’ passing, Cora’s health began to decline, slowing her rigorous work processing Charles’ papers. For more than two years the aging Cora Fillmore struggled with arteriosclerosis. She transitioned at age 78, on January 29, 1955.

The Treasures of the Archives series is a regular feature highlighting the extensive digital records, data, and artifacts collection held at Unity Archives, located at Unity World Headquarters.