Robert “Bob”  Cornelia

Robert “Bob” L. Cornelia died peacefully on October 4, 2020, in Appleton, MN, at the age of 78. Bob was born on September 2, 1942, in Jeffersonville, Indiana, to Robert A. Cornelia and Aleene Wright. Raised by his paternal grandparents; Bertha (Jahn) and Otto Cornelia, he grew up on the family ranch in Eastern Montana and left home as a young man to join the Navy (he would later go on to serve in the Army). He was a jack-of-all-trades with a restless spirit, holding jobs too numerous to count, including rancher, custom combine operator, telephone line repairman, radar technician, bus driver, baseball coach, appliance repairman, mechanic, electrician, chemical dependency counselor, and mental health case manager. Bob was an avid hunter, finding peace in a deer stand and scouting the countryside. His proudest moment came in 1985 when he took a 19-point non-typical Whitetail which, at the time, ranked as one of the largest deer ever measured in Minnesota. The antler display won 2nd place at the 1986 Minnesota Deer Classic. In addition to hunting and fishing, Bob enjoyed a good joke, coffee, sports, and cooking his specialties of goulash and cabbage soup. Most of all though, he loved to “go for a drive”. After recovering from alcohol dependence in 1979, Bob turned his attention to helping others, first as a member of support groups and then as professional after receiving his associate’s degree in 1989 from Willmar Community College. He continued school at St. Cloud State, but left school before receiving his degree. In the last month of his life, with the help of his daughter-in-law, Jenny, he was able to complete the requirements to receive his bachelor’s degree in psychology, a bucket-list item of which he was very proud. Even after retiring, he continued to support people in need by driving them across the state for medical and behavioral health appointments. Whether it was through his role as a chemical dependency counselor or supporting people in the disability community, he was always full of encouragement and an advocate for others in need. Bob leaves a large family and many friends, whose lives will never be the same without him. He is survived by the love of his life, his wife, LaRae (Wellendorf) Cornelia of Pennock, MN; his brother, Bill (and Mary) Cornelia of Casa Grande, Arizona; half-siblings Larry (and Dalene) Cornelia of Circle, Montana and Sherri (and Ron) Burich of Hutchinson, Minnesota; children Bobby (and Michelle) Cornelia of San Antonio, Texas, Rian Briest of Duluth, Minnesota, as well the fantastic four from his previous marriage to Bonnie (Rice) Cornelia; Frank (and Jenny) Cornelia of Denver, Colorado, Mike (and Tarrah) Cornelia of Albuquerque, New Mexico, Tawn (and Troy) Elie of St. Michael, Minnesota, and Scott Cornelia of Big Lake, Minnesota; and numerous grandchildren and cousins. His grandkids held the dearest place in his heart. Jade, Jasmine, Cody, Tate, Jaxon, Vance, Dayne, Jack, Carter, Micah, Alexander, Madeline, and Max – your grandpa loved each of you very much. He is preceded in death by his father, Robert A. Cornelia, of Circle, Montana; mother Ailene Wright, of Hutchinson, Minnesota; and his beloved aunts and uncles and several cousins. Per his request, his body has been donated to the University of Minnesota for medical research. A military funeral will be held when he is returned to the family. Cards and condolences can be sent to LaRae Cornelia at P.O. Box 266, Pennock, MN 56279. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Project Turnabout in Granite Falls, MN. The family would like to thank the caregivers at Appleton Municipal Nursing Center and the caring staff at the Veteran’s Administration. To his friends and family: please heed some of his final words: “Go! Go have fun!” Rest in peace, Dad. You are loved and you will be missed.


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