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Russell M. Cornelius
"Russell"

Company H-1

16 Jun 1939 - 12 Mar 2014

Place of Death: Convent, LA

Interment: Lake Lawn Park Cemetery, New Orleans, LA

It is with great sorrow and regret that we must notify you of the death of our Classmate, Russell Cornelius, on March 12, 2014, in Convent, LA, after suffering a massive stroke that stopped his respiratory function while on a Catholic retreat at Manresa upriver from New Orleans. 

Russell is survived by his beloved wife of 52 years, Carolyn; daughter Allison Alleva, her husband Quentin, and children Robert and Jonathan; son Roger Cornelius; and daughter Cecily Cornelius-White and children Avery and Evan.  Russell was predeceased by both of his parents and by his brother and our Classmate, Roger Cornelius. 

Visitation will be at Lake Lawn Metairie Funeral Home, 5100 Pontchartrain Boulevard, New Orleans, LA on March 17 from 9 to 11 AM with a funeral mass beginning at 11 AM.  Interment in the family tomb at Lake Lawn will follow. 

Condolences may be sent to Carolyn at 131 Mulberry Drive, Metairie, LA  70005.

In lieu of flowers, a donation in Russell's memory may be made to West Point Association of Graduates. 

Well done, Russell.  Be thou at peace.

Remembrances:

Class Memorial Pages\H-1 Russell Cornelius.pdf

Russ was the quintessential Southern Gentleman. As H-1 mates we became good friends in recent years exchanging emails and chatting  at reunions. He was one of the wisest , caring, and intelligent men I have ever known. My wife, Teri, and I draw some comfort in having spent some time with Russ and Carolyn during a visit to New Orleans a few months before his passing.

John F. Grisoni

Obituaries:

RUSSELL MARTIN CORNELIUS was born on June 16, 1939 in New Orleans, Louisiana. He died on March 12, 2014 in Convent, Louisiana of natural causes while on a Catholic retreat at Manresa. He was predeceased by his mother Katherine Russell Cornelius and by his father Roger Lamon Cornelius. Russell's only sibling, identical twin brother Roger, died of lymphoma in 1966. Russell is survived by his beloved wife of 52 years, Carolyn Faller Cornelius, and their three children Allison Ann Cornelius Alleva of Baton Rouge, Roger Martin Cornelius of Metairie, and Cecily Faller Cornelius-White of Springfield, Missouri. He is also survived by four grandchildren: Robert and Jonathan Alleva, and Avery and Evan Cornelius-White.

Russell graduated as valedictorian of the Class of 1957 at De La Salle High School in New Orleans. He then graduated No. 5 in the Class of 1961 at the U.S. Military Academy, West Point, where he received his Bachelor degree in Engineering and Military Science and commission as Lieutenant in the U.S. Army. He served in Germany, where he commanded a Field Artillery firing battery. He resigned from active duty in 1964 to attend business school at Tulane University. He was elected president of Tulane's Graduate Business Administration Society and earned his Master of Business Administration degree in 1966. While a graduate student at Tulane, Russell began service in the Louisiana National Guard's Washington Artillery at Jackson Barracks, where he was promoted to Captain and commanded a firing battery. He resigned his Army commission after the Artillery battalion was disbanded in 1968. After receiving his MBA, Russell worked for Humble Oil & Refining Company (later acquired by Exxon) 3 years as a refinery engineer in Baton Rouge and 2 years as a senior supply analyst in Houston. Leaving Humble in 1971, he moved back to the New Orleans area and entered Loyola Law School, where he received the degree of Juris Doctor in 1974. He co-founded the New Orleans law firm of Cornelius, Sartin & Murphy. Along with his law partners and associates, Russell practiced defense law for several major insurance companies. He was admitted to practice in all state and federal courts in Louisiana, and in the U.S. Supreme Court. During his career, he held the highest peer ratings in legal ability and ethics. He was a member of the legal fraternity of Phi Delta Phi, the International Association of Defense Counsel, and the Louisiana Association of Defense Counsel. Russell also served as a board member of the Louise S. McGehee School on the executive committee while his daughters Allison and Cecily were enrolled there.

Russell suffered a debilitating stroke during brain surgery in 1991. Despite the physical impairments that followed, he thankfully kept his keen intelligence, sharp wit and positive outlook on life for 22 years and 6 months to the day after this life-changing event. He maintained his law practice until he retired in 2009. He spent many happy years with his family and he and Carolyn travelled the world several times over.

Russell's social life included membership in the West Point Society of the Mid-Gulf, Krewe of Hermes, Bienville Club, Metairie Country Club, and New Orleans Country Club. As a younger man, Russell was an avid tennis player and even managed an occasional win in a club tournament. In later years, he stayed active and found enjoyment each week with regular workouts at the gym and rounds of golf with old friends. Since their marriage in 1962, he was ever sustained by the love and companionship of his devoted wife Carolyn. He loved his family and often said that he felt his greatest contribution to society and America's future would be his children and their descendants.

Relatives and friends are invited to attend services at LAKE LAWN METAIRIE FUNERAL HOME, 5100 Pontchartrain Blvd., New Orleans, Louisiana on Monday, March 17, 2014. Visitation will be from 9:00am to 11:00am with a funeral mass beginning at 11:00am, followed by the interment in the family tomb at Lake Lawn. In lieu of flowers, please consider a contribution in Russell's name to Manresa House of Retreats, P.O. Box 89, Convent, LA 70723, or to 698 Mills Road, West Point, NY 10996, or to St. Francis Xavier Church Building Fund, 444 Metairie Road, Metairie, LA 70005.

Taps Memorial Article:

Russell M. Cornelius 1961

1961 Class Crest

Cullum No. 23286 • Mar 12, 2014 • Died in Convent, LA

Interred in Lake Lawn Metairie Cemetery, New Orleans, LA

Russell Martin Cornelius was born June 16, 1939 in New Orleans, LA to Roger Lamon Cornelius and Katherine Russell Cornelius. Russell’s dad died when he and his identical twin brother, Roger, were in sixth grade. Both set their sights on West Point in tenth grade. Appointments to the Academy highlighted success in high school, and Russell and Roger were neck-and-neck tops in their class throughout high school. Russell finished first in his class at De La Salle and delivered the valedictory address at graduation. Along with his brother, he reported for Beast Barracks five weeks later with the vision that he might again manage to graduate tops in the class. At the end of that brutal initial day, however, he pondered his earlier school years and wondered whether his decision to attend West Point might have been a dreadful mistake. Plebe year, however, with benefit of great roommates and H-1 companymates, proved tolerable, and any doubts he had about West Point faded. At year end, he ranked fourteenth and would wear stars on his collar. A more leisurely existence as an upperclassman saw improvement to fifth in order of merit. At graduation in 1961, the next man closing fast, Russell was happy to have finished fifth in his class.

Graduation leave allowed for much togetherness with Carolyn, his hometown girlfriend who was entering her final year at LSU. Field Artillery School was followed by Airborne training. Russell and Carolyn got married four weeks before his deployment to Germany in March 1962. She joined him there two months later after graduating from LSU. Assignments as Bn. R&S Officer, Battery Exec. and then Battery CO brought military growth and lasting friendships. Russell’s next assignment, graduate school to prepare for a teaching position in the Electrical Engineering Dept. at West Point, sadly never materialized. He resigned from active duty in 1964 and left Germany to return home to New Orleans. Russell entered the MBA program at Tulane University, where his twin brother, Roger, having already left active duty after being diagnosed with lymphoma, was starting his second year of business school. That fall Russell began four years of service in the Louisiana Army National Guard’s Washington Artillery, where he commanded a firing battery and rose to the rank of captain.

The death of his twin brother, Roger, in 1966, two months before Russell received his MBA, served to instill a somber realization of life’s uncertainty. Russell’s civilian career began that year when he accepted a position with Humble Oil & Refining Company (now Exxon) at the massive oil refinery in Baton Rouge, LA. For three years there, with his Tulane MBA and West Point BS, he did process engineering, computer simulation and economic forecasting. Then came a promotion to Senior Supply Analyst and two years at Humble’s headquarters in Houston. Russell left the oil company in 1971 for law school at Loyola University in New Orleans. Receiving the degree of Juris Doctor in 1974, he embarked upon a 35-year law career in a small partnership primarily focusing on insurance defense. He was admitted to practice in all state and federal courts in Louisiana and in the U.S. Supreme Court. Having well represented several major insurance companies over his career, Russell was very proud to have earned the highest legal peer ratings in ability (A) and ethics (V). He continued in his law practice until retirement in 2009.

Russell suffered a debilitating stroke during brain surgery in 1991. Determined to overcome a neurological handicap and continue to perform his duty, Russell fully worked his way out of a wheelchair 11 months after the ill-fated surgery. He continued to cope with partial left-side paralysis and visual impairment, but thankfully kept his keen intelligence, sharp wit and positive outlook on life for 22 years and 6 months to the day after this life-changing event. He remained active with gym workouts, travel with Carolyn and development of a double-bogey golf game. Carolyn’s love and devotion made the life journey all worthwhile. Without her, there would have been little social life and no children or grandchildren to give joy in later years. Russell loved his family and often said that he felt his greatest contribution to society and America’s future would be his children and their descendants.

Russell was a spiritual man and attended a Catholic retreat every year during the first week of Lent. He always returned from the retreat with a certain peace about him. Russell died of natural causes on the last day of his annual retreat. His family will miss him, but they take solace that he was at peace with the Lord in his final moments.

Russell is survived by his beloved wife of 52 years, Carolyn Faller Cornelius, and their three children: daughter Allison Ann Cornelius Alleva and her husband David Quentin Alleva of Baton Rouge, LA, son Roger Martin Cornelius of Metairie, LA and daughter Cecily Faller Cornelius-White of Springfield, MO. He is also survived by four grandchildren: Robert Martin Alleva, Jonathan Russell Alleva, Avery Jane Cornelius-White and Evan Riley Cornelius-White.

Russell’s concluding words from his high school valedictory address are appropriate here: “My friends, I have no parting sigh to give you, so accept my parting smile. With these words, and in this spirit, I bid you all farewell.”

Self-written with additions by his son, Roger