Formerly of Menomonee Falls. Called home to his Lord and Savior on January 7, 2022, surrounded by his family.
Beloved husband of Renee for 60 years. Devoted father of Tamara (Shawn) MacDonald and Timothy. Proud grandpa of Charles (Jana), Chelsey (Alex), Kin, Caitlin, Annette, Jake, Amelia, Samuel, Jonathan and Caroline. Great-grandpa of Mason, Jackson, Lucy, Elijah and Jaiden. Dear brother of Thomas (the late Carol), Michael (Jean) and Richard (Joan). Further survived by his friend Carol MacDonald and numerous cousins, nieces, nephews, family and friends.
Preceded in death by his cherished son, Staff Sergeant Todd Cornell, step-granddaughter Madeline MacDonald, siblings Mary Jane, Darrell, James, William, Patrick, John, Mark and Terry Lee.
Bob had an easy smile and an outgoing personality. He made a connection with everyone he met. He made it personal for them – through a common interest, or by humoring you with a running joke that only you and he were privy. Simply, he made you feel special.
Bob grew up in a large family, dominated by the energy and antics of ten male siblings. He immensely enjoyed the kinship, playfulness, shenanigans and even the times of strife growing up in this environment, as it shaped his family’s values into adulthood. Key attributes Bob passed along to his children – and anyone wise enough to listen and follow his example – were hard work, discipline, humility, loyalty to people and a cause, and most of all, true faith in God and the promise of salvation through Jesus Christ.
A Cornell trait is strength of character. Beyond this strength, Bob also had great physical strength, to the very end. He was a standout football player for Custer High School, with a few concussions and two split helmets to his credit for hitting his opponents so hard. He worked 30 years for American Can Company as a heavy machine mechanic until the Teutonia Ave plant was closed. He later worked as the head mechanic for Gielow’s Lawn & Garden Equipment, which gave him ready access to the next mega lawn machines that were traded in for new equipment. Bob enjoyed breaking a few of these machines down to the bare metal, then rebuilding them with many “improvements” – an upgraded engine, beefier bolts…you get the idea. “Dad’s Garage” was open 24/7 to address a leaky tire, a brake job, engine issues, or anything mechanical that he was eager to take on.
Bob honorably served in the Army at the height of Cuban Missile Crisis as a military policeman (MP). The loss of his son, Todd, in 2004 was very difficult. However, he and Renee were embraced by the Army leadership at Fort McCoy following the construction of the SSG Todd R. Cornell NCO Academy. They spent a great deal of time over the next decade with veterans’ groups and the Being There Reaching Out organization to assist other families affected by the loss of a service member in the line of duty. It was classic Bob: lean into adversity, lead by example, and inspire others that there is hope even in the most difficult times. Hope leads to recovery leads to healing. And healing brings peace.
Bob was a dedicated and loyal husband. The kind that fills the gas tank for his wife for over 60 years so she never had to. He was a patient, instructive father, often leading by example more than words. His connection with all his grandchildren and great grandchildren was special, connecting on that individual, personal level that he did so amazingly, so easily. Bob was a cherished uncle, especially during the heydays of annual Cornell Family Reunions. He formed friendships easily, and knowing him created lasting bonds and a man you could count on no matter the situation. He was a hugger. He enjoyed teasing with (mostly) jovial humor, and he always lit up when you brought the barbs back to him. Bob valued living on Town Hall Road with his family, later moving to the back of the land in the later years to build a retirement home with Renee. He immensely enjoyed the lasting and deep friendships being a member of the Gloria Dei Lutheran Church congregation for over 50 years, serving in many formal and informal capacities over those years.
Bob was one of those individuals of which it is said, “They broke the mold when they made him.” That’s probably true; however, he quietly dedicated his life to making sure he imparted as much wisdom, strength of character, humor, and faith with everyone he met. Those who shared in his wonderful example are so very thankful and will undoubtedly endeavor to honor his memory by passing along the “Bob traits” he so patiently taught us.
As Bob so often and fondly said, “Peace be with you.”
The family would like to give special thanks to the Clement J. Zablocki VA Medical Center ICU staff for their compassion and care.
Visitation at GLORIA DEI LUTHERAN CHURCH, W180N7863 Town Hall Rd, Menomonee Falls, WI 53051, Thursday, January 13 from 4:00 PM until the time of memorial service at 6:00 PM. In lieu of flowers, memorials are appreciated to Gloria Dei Lutheran Church or the Fisher House Foundation. Interment at Wisconsin Memorial Park for immediate family at a future date.