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Published: Saturday, 2/23/2002

Ex-plasterer owned firm with brother

ADDISON, Mich. - Leonard LeRoy Cornwell, who operated Cornwell Bros. Plastering Contractors here, died of congestive heart failure Wednesday in Tender Care Nursing Home, Midland, Mich. He was 91.

Mr. Cornwell of Midland spent most of his life in Addison. He was born in Battle Creek, Mich., and moved to Addison as a young man.

In the 1930s, he opened Cornwell Bros. Plastering Contractors with his brother, Glenn. The business focused on contracting jobs for new houses. Mr. Cornwell and his brother worked on an average of 30 to 50 houses each year.

“He and his brother worked well together,” his daughter, Donna Reed, said. “They were very busy. The building business was much better in those days.”

During the Depression years when business was slow, Mr. Cornwell and his brother lived on a farm and grew their own food.

Mr. Cornwell owned the company with his brother until his retirement in the 1970s. One of their jobs was plastering the parsonage at Addison United Church, where Mr. Cornwell was a member.

“They used just a mud plaster and put it on the walls. This was in the days before drywall,” Pastor Keith Porter said. “It was a very labor-intensive job.”

Mr. Cornwell was superintendent of the church's Sunday school for several years. He was in charge of organizing teachers and classroom space and overseeing the curriculum.

He belonged to the Kiwanis Club of Addison and participated in many community social events.

“He was always there for everyone,” his daughter said.

Mr. Cornwell married Alpha M. Goss in 1927 and she died in 1963. In 1970, he married Agatha DeFay, with whom he enjoyed traveling all over the country. The couple took several trips to Florida and Arizona.

Surviving are his wife, Agatha; daughters, Lyn Wisner, Mary Stubli, and Donna Reed; brother, Vern Cornwell; sisters, Thresa Hesselink and Thelma Kooyer; 13 grandchildren; 33 great-grandchildren, and nine great-great-grandchildren.

Services will be at 1 p.m. today in the Brown-Van Hemert Funeral Home, Addison, where the body will be after 11 a.m. today.

The family requests tributes to Addison United Church.



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