Rawlings offers condolences on death of Nellie Corson

It is with deep sadness that I share news of the death of Nellie Corson, a cherished member of our Cornell family, who died Monday, Jan. 23, at the age of 102 at her home at Kendal at Ithaca.

Nellie was the widow of Dale Corson, Cornell’s eighth president (1969-77) and a distinguished physicist and engineer, who died in 2012 at the age of 97. Nellie and Dale were married for 73 years and together had four children, six grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

Elizabeth and I had the great pleasure of knowing Nellie for a number of years. She was a core member of the Cornell family because of her belief in Cornell’s mission, her commitment to its success, and her constant engagement in its intellectual and cultural life. Her children reflect her contributions to Cornell perfectly.

Just three weeks ago, Nellie’s family gathered at Kendal on her 102nd birthday to celebrate her life. It was a wonderful occasion, honoring her long life and her devotion to her multigenerational family, many of whom had deep connections to Cornell.

In addition to Dale, who was a giant of Cornell research and leadership, two of the Corsons’ children had long careers at Cornell that touched and enriched countless other lives. David Corson ’65, Ph.D. ’74, was a librarian and curator at Cornell University Library for 36 years, and Janet Corson-Rikert led Gannett Health Services here on campus for more than 20 years and was associate vice president for campus health. Additionally, their son Bruce was a visiting critic and visiting associate professor for the College of Architecture, Art and Planning, and two of their grandchildren, Catherine Corson ’92, M.A. ’94, and Amy Corson ’95, are alumnae.

Nellie was active in the Ladies Auxiliary to Sage Hospital (Sage Auxiliary) for its entire period of operation from 1966-1980, and in the Campus Club, which dedicated black oak trees in her honor at Balch Terrace. Atop McGraw Tower, the upper E flat bell of the Cornell Chimes is dedicated to her and Dale.

On behalf of the entire university community, I extend heartfelt condolences to Nellie Corson’s family. Please join me in taking a moment today to acknowledge her life and legacy.

Hunter R. Rawlings III
Interim President