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Obituaries » Charles P. Cornell

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October 27, 1950 - December 9, 2021

A memorial will be held in the spring. In lieu of flowers, please donate in Peter’s name to the American Civil Liberties Union or the Southern Poverty Law Center, organizations he supported for many years.

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Charles Peter Cornell, 71, passed away unexpectedly on December 9th at Ascension Borgess Hospital, in Kalamazoo, Michigan, due to a bout of pneumonia that exacerbated underlying conditions.

Peter (Pete), as he was known to family and friends, was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan, on October 27, 1950, to Lorain Dale and Sonja (von Reis) Cornell. He graduated from East Lansing High School and attended the University of Michigan before ultimately receiving Bachelors and Masters of Science degrees from Michigan State University. He met his future wife, Jo Wiley, while working for a summer on Mackinac Island.

A resident of Portage, Michigan, since 1988, Peter spent his career as a microbiologist in the animal health division of the local pharmaceutical industry, retiring in 2015.

Pete was known by all as a warm and easy-going guy, devoted to his friends and family.

He was generous with his time and happy to share his considerable knowledge on a wide range of topics, from health care to cooking and brewing. He also cared deeply for the animals in his life, none more so than his longtime canine companion, Spinner.

Pete loved listening to early rock, folk, blues, and jazz – really any music that was meant to move people. Dylan was his favorite. He enjoyed working with his hands and was always in the midst of multiple projects – woodworking, building stereo amplifiers from scratch, repairing his Corvette, and more.

Peter instilled in his children the importance of taking care of the people you love and standing up for everyone you can. He believed in using his resources to help other people rather than himself because he recognized the important things in life are not objects, they’re your relationships. He always wanted people to be themselves and do what made them happy.

Peter is survived by his son, Andrew; daughter, Kerstin; daughter-in-law, Ellie; grandchildren, Anika and Teo; sister, Christina; brother-in-law, Alan; niece, Sara; nephew-in-law Shelby; grandniece, Paige; and partner of many years, Jo, with whom he remained on good terms after their separation.