Samuel Douglas Cornell

Obituary
6 entries
  • "I knew Dr. Cornell in Santa Fe. I was part of the team..."
    - Paul Schmitt
  • "My mentor, my friend, my second Dad. I wish you peace. I..."
    - Joyce Wright
  • "Thank you Dr. Cornell for all you gave to Mackinac College...."
    - Kathleen Gail Browne Phillips
  • "I knew Dr. Cornell when I was a student of Mackinac..."
    - Jeanette Savoy
  • "Thank you for the wonderful life I was able to lead"
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Samuel Douglas Cornell of Tucson passed away November 12, 2010. He was 95 years old. Doug was born on April 16, 1915, in Buffalo, New York, the son of Douglas and Gwendolyn Cornell. In 1931, at 16, he graduated from the Park School in Buffalo and entered Yale College, where he graduated magna cum laude in 1935. He continued in graduate school at Yale and in 1938, at 23, completed a Ph.D. in physics and joined the Eastman Kodak Company in Rochester, New York, as an optical physicist. In 1939 Doug married Priscilla Mary Greene of Buffalo. They eventually had four children. In 1942 Doug joined the United States Naval Reserve as a research physicist working first on anti-aircraft technology and later on new weapons development, including work on the Guided Missiles Committee of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He served through the remainder of World War II and was discharged in 1946 with the rank of commander. He then accepted a civilian position with the Planning Division of the Research and Development Board of the Department of Defense, moving his family to Washington, D.C. In 1949 he was appointed director of the Planning Division with responsibility for, among other things, the formulation of a master plan for military research and development. In 1952, Doug left the Department of Defense to become executive officer of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Research Council in Washington. Over the next 13 years, as chief of the staff of the NAS/NRC, he worked closely with numerous scientists and federal agencies on new scientific and technological developments, including early planning for the exploration of space. In 1959, his beloved wife, Priscilla passed away after a long battle with cancer. In 1965, Doug left the National Academy of Sciences to take up the presidency of Mackinac College, a new liberal arts college in northern Michigan, serving in that position until 1970. In 1968 he married Judithe Friderichsen of Denmark, a marriage that flourished until his death. In 1970 they moved back to Washington where he returned to the National Academy of Sciences as special assistant to its president, a position he held until his retirement in 1981. In 1983, he and Judithe moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico. Over the next 20 years, they traveled often, particularly in Europe. In 2003, Doug suffered a stroke that reduced his energy and mobility, and in 2004 he and Judithe moved to Tucson, Arizona, where three of his four children live. Throughout his long life, Doug was devoted to science, was an engaged and engaging student of history, and believed in the unique power of rigorously gained knowledge combined with wisdom. Gifted with superb intellect and outstanding administrative skills, he was proud to have participated in the remarkable twentieth-century flowering of American science. He was a talented raconteur and a source of humor and inspiration to his family. He is survived by his wife, Judithe and by his two daughters, Susan Cornell Wilkes of Minneapolis and Deborah Cornell Colwell of Tucson; his two sons, S. Douglas Cornell III and Stephen E. Cornell, both of Tucson; nine grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren. He will be remembered in a gathering for friends and family in Tucson and interred eventually in a private ceremony in Buffalo, New York. In lieu of flowers, contributions are invited in his name to Peppi's House, Tucson Medical Center Hospice, 5301 E. Grant Road, Tucson, Arizona 85712. Arrangements by HUDGEL'S SWAN FUNERAL HOME.

Published in the Arizona Daily Star on Nov. 23, 2010
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