ONEONTA – Lewis Edwin Cornell, “Big Lew”, Sr., 85, passed away peacefully on Wednesday, July 4, 2017 at Sentara Hospice, in Virginia Beach, VA.
He was born August 17, 1931, the son of Ralph Joseph Cornell Sr. and Evelyn (Sobers) Cornell in Oneonta, NY. He grew up in Sidney and Oneonta spending much time with his maternal grandparents, James and Fannie Sobers, and their extended family on the “lower deck” in Oneonta. He attended St Mary’s Catholic School in Oneonta as well as public schools in Oneonta and Sidney, NY. He had many fond memories of his time with “Mom” and “Pop” Sobers while in Oneonta.
Lewis married Patricia Ann (Simpkins) Cornell on April 19, 1952, and they were married for 44 years until Pat’s death on July 19, 1996. Within a few weeks after his wedding, he was drafted into the United States Marine Corps and immediately reported to Parris Island, SC for boot camp where he qualified as an expert marksman. He also completed the Marine Corps Communication School in San Diego and was assigned to the Marine Air Station in Cherry Point, NC. In 1953, he was transferred to the 2nd Amphibious Reconnaissance Battalion and was stationed at Camp Fuji, Japan until he was Honorably Discharged.
In addition to his service in the Marine Corps, Lewis held many different jobs over the course of his life, starting at age 6 during the depression when he helped unload freight trains on Market Street in Oneonta. He also was a golf caddy in Oneonta and Cooperstown and worked at Twentieth Century Lanes in Sidney, NY setting bowling pins as a teenager. In 1949 he started working at Scintilla and became an active union member of IAMAW where he worked until he was drafted into the Marine Corps. Upon receiving an honorable discharge from the Marines, he returned to Sidney and worked at Scintilla in the ceramics department until 1968. After 19 years at Scintilla (Amphenol), he left to pursue his own business in the local community. For the next several decades, he had variety of business interests, including concert promoter, construction, and real estate developer with good friend William Hunt Sr. Big Lew was an avid antique and coin collector and a history buff.
Lewis and his wife Pat always lent a helping hand to family and friends in need. Their home was always open to people needing a reprieve from problems they may have had in their lives and many lived with them for extended periods. Numerous family and friends have fond memories of spending time at their house in Sidney and even summer holidays in Cape Cod, MA and Outer Banks, NC where all were welcome. He was a life-long lover of dogs, one of his favorite quotes being, “dogs are good medicine”.
He is survived by his brother, Ralph J. Cornell Jr. of Bainbridge, NY, and his loving children and their respective spouses: Dianne (Cornell) Brockmann of Oneonta NY, Lewis Jr. and Pamela (Marr) Cornell of Virginia Beach, Sharon (Cornell) and Jerry Cuyle of Virginia Beach, and Steven and Beth (Beach) Cornell of Buffalo, NY. He is also survived by his grandchildren and their spouses: Matthew Palmeri of Afton, NY, Maria Brockmann of Oneonta, NY, Christina (Palmeri) and Kenny Wilson and great-grandson Kenneth, III of Hampton, VA, Lena Cornell of Virginia Beach, Marjorie (Cornell) and Alex Glandon of Virginia Beach, Elizabeth Cornell of Arlington, VA, and Lisa Nicole Cornell of Winston-Salem, NC, along with a number of nieces, nephews and cousins. He was predeceased by his son, Richard Cornell, brothers, Joseph Cornell and James Cornell, and sister Mary (Cornell) Ferguson.
A graveside service will be at 12 noon on Friday, July the 14th, 2017.
Arrangements are entrusted with Altmeyer Funeral Home, 5792 Greenwich Road, Virginia Beach, VA and Bookout Funeral Home 357 S Main Street, Oneonta, NY.
Donations may be made to Delaware Valley Humane Society, 101 East Main Street, Sidney, NY 13838