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Obituaries » Robert “Bob” Cornell

Robert “Bob” Arlo Cornell, 86, surrounded by his loving family, passed away peacefully on Thursday, January 18, 2018, in Warrenton. 

He was born December 13, 1931, in San Diego, California, to the Arlo and Kathryn Cornell. He attended Point Loma High School, where he played quarterback and first baseman for the varsity sports teams and was president of his senior class. While earning his undergraduate degree from San Diego State University, he served as freshman class president, sophomore representative to the student council and president of the Associated Men Students. He was honored as Kappa Sigma Man of the Year for Southern California in 1952. 

Mr. Cornell served in the United States Naval Reserves in the submarine service from 1951 to 1953 and was commissioned as an ensign to active duty in 1953. He served in the Korean War, earning the rank of lieutenant JG. He was awarded the Expert Rifleman Medal, the Expert Pistol Shot Medal and the National Defense Service Medal. 

Following his time in the Navy, Mr. Cornell entered Stanford University Graduate School of Business in 1955 and graduated with a master’s degree in business administration in 1957. After touring Hewlett Packard as a graduate student, Mr. Cornell immediately realized the HP values and culture matched his personal beliefs and wanted to join the team. He worked for Hewlett-Packard for 17 years, holding various positions including production engineer, production manager, and operations manager. He spent two years in Böblingen, Germany, as one of two Americans who went to set up Hewlett-Packard’s first overseas manufacturing operation. He worked for Spectra-Physics from 1974 to 1984 and was responsible for all operational activities associated with the company’s laser products business. He led the start-up of the scanner manufacturing plant in Eugene, Oregon, in 1980 and 1981.

He spent the latter years of his career as an independent contractor, specializing in manufacturing turnarounds. He was also a co-organizer and founder of Foothill Bank in Los Altos, California, and director of the Homeowner’s Association for Kiahuna Plantation Resort on the island of Kauai. Mr. Cornell had a genuine interest in people and mentored countless men and women throughout his career. He had a knack for seeing the potential in others and inspiring them to achieve it.

Three weeks before leaving for Stanford, he met the love of his life, Beverly Sue Copeland. On his way out of town, he sent her a note saying, “Please wait for me.” They wrote to each other every day for two years, and in 1957, six days after he graduated with his MBA from Stanford, they were married. Their love story continued for more than 63 years as their family grew. They settled in Los Altos, California, and raised three children, Barbara Wolfe, Kathryn Crabtree and Carl Cornell.

Mr. Cornell was an active church leader and was involved in his children’s activities, including scouting and sports.

In their retirement, Mr. and Mrs. Cornell moved to Sunriver, Oregon, where they enjoyed the beauty of the High Desert and made many happy memories with their family and friends. They especially loved spending time with their grandchildren, Amanda Lockwood, Allison Wolfe, Brianna Wolfe, Robert KC Cornell, Jacqueline Crabtree, Ryan Crabtree, and Nicole Crabtree. Mr. Cornell was passionate about making things better for the next generation. He read to children in the local schools each week and founded the Care for Kids Foundation

Mr. and Mrs. Cornell raised their grandson, KC, and helped raise awareness for Autism. In 2010, they moved to Warrenton and lived within a few miles of their daughter Kathy and her family. Mr. Cornell loved watching his grandchildren pursue their passions and attended every concert and sporting event he could. Recently, he was blessed with two great grandsons, Caleb Wolfe Burney and Decker Wolfe Lockwood. 

Mr. Cornell was an avid outdoorsman. He enjoyed backpacking in the High Sierras, white water rafting in Oregon, Utah, California and Alaska, and in 1969 he climbed the Galdhøpiggen, the highest mountain in Scandinavia, with long-time Norwegian friend, Gerhard Heiberg. He also enjoyed skiing, kayaking, fishing, bird hunting, underwater photography and snorkeling. His favorite vacation spots were Yosemite, California, and Poipu Beach, Kauai. He was a talented photographer and captured the beauty of these locations and the special family memories on film.

Mr. Cornell was deeply loved by his family and friends. He will be remembered for his genuine interest in people, his quick wit, his commitment to excellence, and his devotion to family, country and Christ. 

The family would like to extend our gratitude to caregiver Debbie Smith, all the staff at Fauquier Health and Rehabilitation Center, and Heartland Hospice for the loving care they provided Mr. Cornell. 

If you would like to make a contribution in his memory, the family requests that you support our National Parks. Even better, take a hike in a beautiful location and think of him. 
A celebration of Mr. Cornell’s life will be held at 1 p.m. Sunday, February 11, at Bethel United Methodist Church near Warrenton.
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