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CORNELL Diane J. Cornell (Age 66) Of Washington, DC and Cape May Point, NJ died peacefully at home on Tuesday, January 7, 2020. A prominent communications lawyer and regulatory policy maker, Diane was both a tireless private sector advocate and a passionate public servant. She began her career in Washington in 1981 at the law firm Squire, Sanders and Dempsey (now Squire Patton Boggs), and in 1987 began the first of two tours at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). At the FCC, Diane joined the Common Carrier Bureau's Division of Policy and Program Planning. She rapidly rose through the FCC ranks, assuming roles of greater profile and responsibility, including Chief of the International Policy Division of the Common Carrier Bureau, Chief of the Telecommunications Division of the International Bureau, and the Chief of Staff/Associate Chief of the Wireless Communications Bureau. She also served as legal advisor to FCC Commissioners Patricia Diaz Dennis and Sherrie Marshall, and as Acting Senior Legal Advisor to FCC Chairman Reed H. Hundt. Between the stints at the FCC she served as vice president at both CTIA (The Wireless Association), and Inmarsat where she spearheaded regulatory and government relations issues. Government service was always in Diane's blood, and the FCC came calling again. In 2013, she rejoined the agency as Special Counsel to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler. She retired from the FCC in 2016, having received the Agency's Gold Medal for Distinguished Service, the Special Achievement Award, and the Chairman's Outstanding Service Award. In 2017, after her retirement, she was recognized for the sweeping reach of her contributions to the public interest, her mentorship to hundreds of members of the Bar, and significant policy accomplishments with the Federal Communications Bar Association's (FCBA's) Excellence in Government Service Award. Diane's professional contributions extended far beyond her "day job." She was a tireless volunteer to countless philanthropic organizations - serving in a variety of leadership roles at the FCBA - including as its President in 2007-2008. Diane had a passion for progressive issues and politics which she expressed with her support of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the LGBTQ Victory Fund and Institute, and Voices for Progress, as well as the presidential campaigns of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. In 2009, Diane was a key member of the Obama-Biden transition team. Diane had a long association with USA Badminton, both as a player and an officer. She was serving as its president during the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games at which time she escorted President Jimmy Carter and Rosalynn and other dignitaries around the badminton venue. She also worked to support the US Bid for Olympics 2012 to be hosted in DC and just last year as chair of the USAB Ethics Committee. Diane's contributions to badminton have been felt throughout our region; her specific legacy includes the Mid Atlantic Classic and DC Open. She recently served several terms as President of Northeast Badminton Association. As a player, she held a senior national title and several regional titles. Diane's civil union and marriage to the love of her life, Margaret Flinner, were the firsts of their type in the Borough of Cape May Point, NJ. Diane had a lifelong love of Cape May Point, pursuing her love of the beach, biking, and birding with friends. She and Margaret also enjoyed travelling extensively in the Americas, Asia, Europe, and Africa. Diane was born in Bryn Mawr, PA and grew up in Philadelphia and attended Springside High School. She received a BA degree from Wesleyan University, and a JD from the University of Pennsylvania Law School. In addition to Margaret, Diane is survived by her brother-in-law, Charles "Ricky" Flinner of Silver Spring, MD, her sister-in-law, Linda Collier (Michael) of Encinitas, CA, her niece, Lisa Hourin (Scott) of Fredericksburg, VA, and their daughters, Bay and Lilly, her stepmother, Suzanne Cornell of Kennett Square, PA, and her two step-brothers, Matt Varhola of Pigeon Forge, TN, and Greg Varhola of Boulder, CO. She is also survived by her brother, Peter Cornell (Jo) of Los Angeles, CA. A Celebration of Diane's Life will be held in the near future. As an expression of sympathy, memorial contributions may be sent to the Cape May Bird Observatory (CMBO) or Dr. Issacs Breast Cancer Research Lombardi Cancer Center/IMO Diane Cornell. A Celebration of Diane's Life will be held in the near future. As an expression of sympathy, memorial contributions may be sent to the Cape May Bird Observatory (CMBO) or Dr. Issacs Breast Cancer Research Lombardi Cancer Center/IMO Diane Cornell.

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Published in The Washington Post on Jan. 12, 2020.
Memories & Condolences
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24 entries
March 25, 2021
Diane was our landlord for me and my family. She not only was a fair and kind landlord but a wonderful person to have come into my family's life during the duration of the time that we had the opportunity to have known her. She was a wonderful person to have known. I will always remember her and I'm glad to have the memory of meeting her. I will cherish that. Ann Marie, Kenny & Olivia Rose
Ann Marie Money
January 6, 2021
Hard to believe it has been a year.
What a year.
All the worse without her.
Would have liked talking her into joining us at the Tokyo Games
Looking forward to seeing Mags.
George “Cookie Reed-Dellinger
November 9, 2020
Carmen and I just heard of Diane's passing yesterday. We were stunned!
We have rented the Cornell Cottage. In Cape May Point for many years and have loved it and it's spirit.
Watch over your beloved dunes with your mother Patricia. We will search the clouds for shuttlecocks from your eternal matches.
Love to Mags
Michael and Carmen Opperman
August 25, 2020
So sorry to learn of Diane's passing , just today. Like my brothers and I, she was part of two badminton families, her natural family, and we players and enthusiasts who generally got along so well. I'm glad that I got to see her a couple of times after our tournament playing days were over. My brothers and I send our deep condolences to her family, and especially to her brother Peter. They were good times, weren't they?
Don Rittmann
January 30, 2020
Our sincere condolences to you Margaret. We are grateful for the time we had together with Diane.
Bruce Sanderson
January 27, 2020
One of the most honorable and nicest human beings and most intelligent and civil legal colleagues I've known.
Molly Pauer
January 26, 2020
Working, laughing and being with Diane was a joy.
Donald Abelson
January 23, 2020
Margaret, Diane was a remarkable person, a brave and smart civil servant to whom we all owe a debt. I knew that you brought great happiness to her dynamic life. I am saddened by her death and send you my deepest sympathies.
Peter Cowhey
January 19, 2020
Our family would like to add our sincere condolences to the many voices in this space. Diane was our neighbor here in DC. We are relatively new transplants from New England and she was the first to knock on our door to say welcome. It was a thoughtful gesture that we should all emulate in some form or another with our fellow humans. We are sending strength and peace to her beloved Margaret. A remarkable life well lived in such a short time. Peace on your journey Diane.
Monica Bisgaard
January 18, 2020
My deepest sympathy to the family of Diane Cornell. May you be comforted in knowing that our Heavenly Father cares for you. He will give you strength and courage to cope with your grief.
Psalm 94:17-19
N. S.
January 17, 2020
Margaret, we are so very sorry for your loss. I always enjoyed spending time with Diane. She was so smart and interesting. We are thinking about you and your family.
Laurie Shedler
January 17, 2020
Remembering many remarkable experiences with Diane from our student days at Wesleyan and later. Margaret, my thoughts are with you at this hard time.
January 16, 2020
I had no idea, she was always my favorite and taught me how to catch the sand crabs in Cape May. I'll miss you forever and love you just the same.
January 16, 2020
Diane's family rented part of our summer house so we spent several summers in Cape May Point, NJ together as children. Many good memories between our families. She will be missed.
Don Theobald
January 16, 2020
Diane was a fond and tireless colleague at the FCC. We've lost her too soon. Go well, good friend. Bill
Bill Lake
January 16, 2020
Diane was one of the most gracious people I've ever met. It was a blow to learn she left so early and I count it a permanent gift to have known her. Sympathy to you, Margaret, and strength.
Jane Robinson
January 14, 2020
I was crushed to hear of Diane's passing so soon after I saw her in November for the first time in a while, when she seemed fine. I'd known her since 1971 at Wesleyan but unfortunately did not see her much in recent years despite living a mile apart. She was a great spirit and friend to many. Margaret, my condolences.
Brian Steinbach
January 13, 2020
We were so lucky to have Diane as a next-door neighbor and friend for the last 13 years. She was like an aunt to our two boys--letting Jacob and Ezra swim in her pool whenever they wanted, teaching Ezra badminton, putting up with their general rowdiness with good humor even when she no doubt wanted to read the newspaper on a float in peace, and planning the annual holiday caroling event on Grant Road with Margaret. Her smile and smart humor (not to mention her joy of talking politics and the law) will be missed so much.
Sara Kropf
January 13, 2020
We are less for losing her. Cookie and Kate
January 13, 2020
Diane was a great lady, a superb colleague (twice!) and a wonderful friend. Her leadership at the FCC and in the industries she represented leave a legacy. Her greatest legacy, however, are the lives she touched as she mentored so many.
Tom Wheeler
January 13, 2020
My condolences to the family . May you find comfort in your treasured memories and Gods promise to return our loved ones who passed away in death . 1st Thessalonians 4 : 13 & 14 .
January 12, 2020
Diane: A wonderful friend and colleague. Her judgment, intellect, compassion, and smile will be missed.
Lon Levin
January 12, 2020
Our extended family of multi-generation cousins in Florida, Texas, North Carolina, Massachusetts and New York, has lost a compassionate, genuine soul who genuinely cared, and showed she cared through her beliefs and actions. We pray that your soul may rest in peace. Leslie Bendt, St. Augustine, FL.
January 12, 2020
A great loss to the communities of Cape May Point and Washington, DC. To our family she was a treasured friend, travel companion and mentor. We will miss her immensely.
Tom Crock, Cape May Point, NJ
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