Cornelius orlando "big red" paden

Destined for a life as a vibrant and grandiose as his entry into the world, Cornelius Orlando “Big Red” Paden was born to the union of the late John Frank and Grace Scott Paden, at the Crossroads of the Mississippi Delta, where the bluff of the Sunflower river banks rise up to meet the infinite fields of cotton, corn and soybeans, on November 27, 1956 in Alligator, Mississippi.

As it should be accomplished that his educational grooming beyond the life lessons imparted into him at home would become the foundational cornerstone of his life, “Big Red,” as he was quite commonly referred to among his peers, completed his primary and secondary education in Coahoma County School System, where he attended Sherard Elementary School before graduating with the Class of 1975 from Coahoma County High School, where his sheer athleticism was on full display in exemplary fashion as a member of the football, baseball and track teams. 

Determined to better equip himself for the endless opportunities life had to offer, “Big Red” furthered his educational journey by matriculating at Coahoma Junior College and graduating with an Associate’s degree in 1977 and subsequently pursued baccalaureate studies at “Thee” Jackson State University.

After completing his intended courses of study at Jackson State, Cornelius returned to Clarksdale, Mississippi, where he lived and worked the entirety of his adult life, both in the private sector and as a consummate entrepreneur. It was upon his return to Clarksdale that his chivalry and affection garnered the attention of the love of his life, the former Miss Lisa Foster, to whom he would ultimately exchange the gift of her hand in marriage for the honor of his last name, and with whom their union, as husband and wife, would be blessed with two children, Orlando and Marquita, into they would instill the integral core values for a life of success into their lineal fabric.

“Big Red,” a community pillar and star in his own right, was successful in his local business endeavors, as owner of the Tin Top, Red Wine’s and Red’s for a span that covered decades. His establishment, Red’s Juke Joint became an internationally known juke joint and bar hop for local and celebrity musicians on the blues circuit, which was the impetus for his decision to found Red’s Old-Timers Blues Festival, which drew crowds of blues enthusiasts from around the world who would converge on Clarksdale, year after year during the Labor Day holiday weekend.

An individual of wise counsel and sage advice, “Big Red” often quoted his personal mantras, to which many took heed: “The game is for life. Whatever you do in this lifetime is going to follow you.” You can’t get away from your trail. Somebody’s gonna know what you’ve done. So that’s for life. That’s til the day you die. And, when you’re dead, somebody’s gonna be able to speak about that there.”

“I’m backed by the river and fronted by the grave.” (in reference to the Sunflower River and Grange Cemetary)

Cornelius was preceded in death by his parents, three brothers; William Authur Taylor, Ronnie Taylor, and three sisters; Luevenia Norphlet, Pinkie Ratcliff and Daisy O’Neal, whose kindred spirits welcomed his arrival into the by and by of eternity in the Lord’s presence.

The indelible imprint of the legacy of his memory has been left to be cherished by three children: son, Orlando W. Paden (Clarksdale, MS); daughters, Marquita S. Paden (Flowood, MS) and Yushumia Caldwell (Hollandale, MS); five grandchildren, Justin Harris, Kaiden Brown, Jekendra Washington, Jackenzie Washington and Jalyssa Washington; four siblings, Fannie Wilson (Memphis, TN), Vinoroah Cotton (Clarksdale, MS), Herman (Sandra) Paden Clarksdale, MS and Sherman (Denise) Paden (Dallas, TX); sister-in-law: Cookie Talbert; brothers-in-law, Ozie B. Ratcliff, Sr., Authur O’ Neal; a god-daughter: Tiffany Nicole Medley; and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins and friends.