Michael Rush Cornwell, Sr., owner and President of Cornwell Funeral Home, passed away on December 15, 2013, in Danville, Arkansas, at the age of 69. Mike was born on February 6, 1944, to the late Lloyd Rush Cornwell and Violet Masters Cornwell, and was a life-long resident of Yell County.
Mike graduated from Dardanelle High School before attending the University of Arkansas, where he was a member of Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity. Mike went on to graduate from the Dallas Institute of Mortuary Science in 1967, during which he received the President’s Award. Upon graduation, he returned to his family’s funeral business in Dardanelle, and eventually moved to Danville to manage and expand the Danville funeral home. Mike was born and raised in the funeral business and dedicated his life to the success of the funeral home. At the time of his death, Cornwell Funeral Home was the second oldest business in Yell County and the fifth oldest funeral home in the State of Arkansas, having been established by Mike’s family in 1898.
In addition to being a licensed embalmer and funeral director, Mike has been the elected Yell County Coroner for the past 35 years, serving up until the date of his death. The office of Yell County Coroner has been filled by Mike’s family for the past 65 years, with his mother serving as the first female Coroner in Arkansas after the death of his father in 1948. Mike loved all local, state and national politics and actively engaged in many political campaigns, including heading President Bill Clinton’s campaign in Yell County during his 1974 congressional race.
Mike also loved Yell County and believed in supporting his community. At the time of his death, he served on the board of directors of Chambers Memorial Hospital and the Yell County Ambulance Board, and was a member of the Lions Club and Danville First Baptist Church. His prior service includes, among others, serving on the Danville City Council, the Yell County Industrial Commission and the board of Danville State Bank, as well as memberships in the Arkansas Funeral Directors Association, the Masonic Lodge (32nd degree Mason) and the Danville and Arkansas Jaycees. In addition to countless community service awards, Mike was named one of Arkansas’ Outstanding Young Men by the Arkansas Jaycees 1978 and received the Speak-Up of the Year award by the Jaycees several years running.
Before his health declined, Mike loved the outdoors and was an avid hunter, being a member of both the National Rifle Association and the Yell County Wildlife Federation. One of the highlights of Mike’s life came in 1987 when he was appointed to the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. During his seven-year tenure, he was instrumental in obtaining a number of needed projects for Yell, Logan and Pope Counties. Among his sponsored projects were multiple improvements to the buildings and grounds at both the Pullen Pond and Petit Jean Wildlife Management Areas, as well as a half million dollar expansion of the boat launching and fishing tournament facilities on both the Pope and Yell County sides of Lake Dardanelle.
Although Mike’s life of service to his community is an inspiration, his greatest accomplishment, other than his family, was the devotion, respect and genuine kindness he bestowed on each and every family that walked through the doors of Cornwell Funeral Home. Mike’s generosity and compassion were immeasurable, and he possessed a special gift that allowed him to comfort grieving families on a daily basis. He simply was the best funeral director, and his legacy will live on in his own family and in those families he faithfully served. His favorite quote is from an old sermon "may the work I've done for others speak for me." It inspired him throughout his life.
After assisting thousands of families lay their loved ones to rest over his 46 years at the helm of Cornwell Funeral Home, Michael Rush Cornwell, Sr. will now be laid to rest.
In addition to his parents, Mike was preceded in death by his brother, Dr. Samuel Lloyd Cornwell, his sister, Carol Cornwell Moseley, and a stepson, Russell Elmore.
Mike’s family misses him beyond words but is forever grateful for the bonus years God gave them with Mike. Mike took the greatest joy not in his success and accomplishments, but in spending time with them. Mike is survived by his loving wife of twenty years, Ann Elmore Cornwell, whose love and devotion to Mike is unparalleled. Mike is also survived by his four children, Michaelle Cornwell Wilkins of Danville, Allison Joelle Cornwell of Little Rock, Ashley Cornwell Gregg (Brent) of Conway and his only son, Michael Rush Cornwell, Jr. (Carrie) of Dardanelle; his seven grandchildren, Brett Lee Wilkins, Carlee Grace Wilkins, Jarett Lee Wilkins, Anna Caroline Gregg, Samuel Andrew Gregg, Michael Rush Cornwell III and Carson Kennison Cornwell; his two stepdaughters, Annette Layne (Allen) of Hartford and Pam Sebren (Kavin) of Greenwood; his only niece and nephew, Kelly Moseley Carr of Jackson, Wisconsin and James Lloyd Moseley of Dallas, Texas; his brother-in-law, James “Skip” Moseley of Mt. Nebo; and the Cornwell Funeral Home Family.
Pallbearers will be Thomas Ray Cornwell, Lamont Cornwell, Gilbert Cornwell, Johnny Cornwell, David Cornwell and James “Skip” Moseley. Honorary pallbearers will be the staff of Cornwell Funeral Home, the Dardanelle High School Class of 1962, the board of Chambers Memorial Hospital and the Yell County Ambulance Board.
Visitation will be from 5-7 p.m. on Tuesday, December 17th, at Danville First Baptist Church. Funeral services will be held on December 18th at 2:00 p.m. also at Danville First Baptist Church, with internment immediately following at Brearley Cemetery, Dardanelle, Arkansas. Memorials in Mike’s honor may be made to the Yell County Wildlife Association. Arrangements provided by Cornwell Funeral Home of Danville. Guestbook and online condolences maybe left at cornwellfuneralhomes.com.