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Robert William Cornell



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Robert William “Bob” Cornell, 97, of Southbury, died November 23 at Danbury Hospital, after several months of declining health. A longtime resident of Newtown, he was born October 21, 1926, in New Bedford, Mass., the son of Alice M. (Treadup) and William R. Cornell.

Mr Cornell was preceded in death by his beloved wife, Alice M. (Sylvia) Cornell, who passed in January 2018. He met his future wife when he took a job as a technician in a research laboratory, where she was his supervisor. He wooed and won her, and their loving and mutually devoted marriage would last for more than 69 years.

Drafted into the Navy during World War II, Mr Cornell served as a medical corpsman at Bainbridge Naval Hospital in Maryland. After the war he entered the Naval Reserve and was later called back to active duty during the Korean War, during which he again served as a corpsman, this time at Camp Lejeune, N.C., with the Second Armored Amphibian Battalion of the Second Marine Division. His service as a corpsman during both wars was one of the parts of his life of which he was most proud.

Although Mr Cornell left high school before graduating, he thereafter took classes at textile school and held technical jobs in the textile and electronics industries. He later returned to his education through taking night courses, first earning a high school equivalency degree in 1959 and then, over many years at several different colleges, a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of Bridgeport in 1973. He was not yet finished, though; further courses at night led to his obtaining a Master of Business Administration from UB in 1976. Mr Cornell always stressed to his family the importance of education, using his own path to illustrate his point.

Mr Cornell’s work in the field of quality control/assurance led him and his wife to move the family from Massachusetts to Illinois in 1960, taking several increasingly responsible positions with manufacturers in the Chicago area. The Cornells and their sons returned to New England in 1967, moving to Newtown when Mr Cornell took the position as the Quality Assurance Manager for Dresser Industries’ plant in Stratford, where he oversaw quality for the precision valves and gauges that Dresser manufactured there.

Throughout Mr Cornell’s career, he was very involved with the American Society for Quality Control (now known as the American Society for Quality) and with the profession of quality. He received certification as a Quality Engineer, was elected a Fellow of the Society, and achieved registration as a Professional Engineer in Quality Engineering. He retired from Dresser in 1988 but stayed involved in the field as an independent quality consultant from 1988 to 2012.

Residents of Newtown for almost 45 years, Mr Cornell and his wife moved to Heritage Village in Southbury in 2012. While in Newtown, they were both active members of St Rose of Lima Parish and had two of their sons attend St Rose School. Each of them volunteered in various roles over the years with both the parish and the school.

A lifelong fan of the Boston Red Sox, Mr Cornell was greatly relieved when the 21st Century finally brought their first World Series win since 1918, and then was pleased that they went on to win three more World Series. (Although he was pained by their several most recent seasons, he maintained his support despite his disappointment.) Other enthusiasms he had were his skilled woodworking and model building, his tinkering in the garage and in his workshop, his family’s whaling and seafaring heritage, and his adventures in culinary improvisation. His greatest enthusiasm, though, was always for his wife and family and for each new addition as the family grew.

Mr Cornell is survived by his son and daughter-in-law, Robert and Linda Cornell of Dewey, Ariz.; his son and daughter-in-law, Richard and Karen Cornell of Stamford; and his son, David Cornell of Southbury. He is also survived by three grandchildren and their spouses, Amanda and Eric Gagnon of Enfield, Sean and Katlin Cornell of Ellington, and Richard Cornell and Elena Kozlova of Redding; four great-grandsons, Ethan Gagnon, Noah Gagnon, Lennox Cornell, and Brody Cornell; his sister-in-law and brother-in-law, Marilyn and Jack Smith of Lancaster, S.C.; and a number of loving nieces and nephews.

In addition to his wife, their beloved twin sons, Anthony and William, predeceased him, as did his sister and brother-in-law, Beverly and Richard Flannery, and his sister-in-law and brother-in-law, Louise and Laurent Guillette.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated in St Rose of Lima Church, 46 Church Hill Road in Newtown, at 10:30 am on Wednesday, December 13. Interment in South Dartmouth Cemetery in Dartmouth, Mass., will follow on Thursday, December 14, at noon.

Contributions in memory of Mr Cornell may be made to the St Catherine Center for Special Needs in Fairfield at stcatherinecenter.org; the St Rose of Lima Church Memorial Fund at strosechurch.com; St Jude Children’s Research Hospital at stjude.org; or any charity of one’s choice.

Funeral arrangements are in care of Honan Funeral Home, 58 Main Street, Newtown.

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