ONEONTA - Lewis Edwin Cornell, "Big Lew" Sr., 85, passed away peacefully on Wednesday, July 4, 2017, at Sentara Hospice, in Virginia Beach, Virginia.
He was born Aug. 17, 1931, the son of Ralph Joseph Cornell Sr. and Evelyn (Sobers) Cornell in Oneonta.
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. 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. 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, South Carolina, for boot camp where he qualified as an expert marksman. He also completed the Marine Corps Communication School in San Diego, California, and was assigned to the Marine Air Station in Cherry Point, North Carolina. In 1953, he was transferred to the 2nd Amphibious Reconnaissance Battalion and 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, 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, Massachusetts and Outer Banks, North Carolina, where all were welcome. He was a lifelong 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; and his loving children and their respective spouses, Dianne (Cornell) Brockmann of Oneonta, 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. He is also survived by his grandchildren and their spouses, Matthew Palmeri of Afton, Maria Brockmann of Oneonta, Christina (Palmeri) and Kenny Wilson; and great-grandson, Kenneth III of Hampton, Virginia, Lena Cornell of Virginia Beach, Marjorie (Cornell) and Alex Glandon of Virginia Beach, Elizabeth Cornell of Arlington, Virginia, and Lisa Nicole Cornell of Winston-Salem, North Carolina; 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 held at noon, Friday, July 14, in the Oneonta Plains Cemetery.
Arrangements are entrusted with Altmeyer Funeral Home, 5792 Greenwich Road Virginia Beach, Virginia and Bookhout Funeral Home, 357 Main St., Oneonta.
Donations may be made to Delaware Valley Humane Society, 101 East Main St., Sidney, NY 13838.
Published on July 6, 2017