Helen Corneli, 87
Helen Corneli, aged 87, died peacefully May 9, 2014, in Salt Lake City, after a brief cascade of illness and injury.
She is survived by her children, Howard, Steven, Miriam, and Danelle, her sisters, Win Griffen and Pat Sheafor, her eight grandchildren, and a new great-grandson. She was preceded in death by her father and mother, Donald and Mary McGavran, her sisters, Mary Theodora and Jean and her brother, Malcolm, and her husband, Clifford M. (Kip) Corneli. Helen was born June 9, 1926 in Almora, India, to a missionary family. She grew up in India and, after high school, tutored young maharajahs in English.
She returned to the U.S. in a convoy during WWII; she later learned she was steaming into Boston Harbor as her future husband shipped out on a troop transport. She earned a BA in English and History from Washington University in St. Louis, where she met Kip, then got an MA from the University of Illinois, where they lived for two years in a 6 x 12-foot trailer. After a treasured year in Paris, they came home to start a family. Helen would earn a PhD at the University of Wisconsin, first riding the Madison hills on a balloon-tired bike, then later, after a skiing fall, commuting 180 miles in a thigh-high cast. Helen taught for many years as a professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, and then, as the director of International Programs, helped a generation of UWSP students study abroad.
Her book Mice in the Freezer, Owls on the Porch won a Best University Press Books Citation in 2003. After retirement, she and Kip relished living in Santa Fe, New Mexico and travelling across the US and around the world. Helen loved to devour good books, cook delicious meals, and keep a beautiful garden, but she was never truly happy unless she was doing some good in the world. Active in many social causes, she was a vibrant member of the Santa Fe Society of Friends (Quakers) and served the meeting in various capacities.
Most of all, she loved her large extended family and an ever-growing multitude of friends. Their love for her has been a testimonial; it now becomes a tribute. A remembrance service will be planned at a later date. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the American Friends Service Committee, the Santa Fe Society of Friends, or Oxfam.
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