Obituary of Henry Adolf Cornelssen
Henry Adolf Cornelssen passed away on March 7, 2019 at the age of 85. Hank, as he was lovingly known, was a man of great character who had a silly and mischievous side that often elicited “Henry” from his family. He loved traveling, red wine, fruit jam and boy did he love a good pie.
Hank was born on October 29, 1933 in San Rafael, CA to Adelbert (Al) and Caroline (Lorenzen) Cornelssen. His family, which included his brother Adelbert (Del), moved to a ranch on Faught Road in Windsor. It was here that Hank first picked up his love of agriculture. He was involved in 4-H, becoming a County All-Star in 1952, and the FFA, where he exhibited at the first FFA Country Fair in Healdsburg. Hank attended Windsor Elementary School and graduated in 1952 from Healdsburg High School.
Hank was drafted into the US Army on June 1, 1953 during the Korean War. He served in a Mechanized Infantry Battalion in Wildfleeken, Germany. He was a crew member of an armored personnel carrier. Hank told many stories about his time in service and the tanks he rode with, although it did effectively turn him against camping for the remainder of his life. He was adamant that he had gotten his fill during the Army.
When Hank returned from the Army, he attended the University of California, Davis. He graduated with a two-year curriculum in Agricultural. He left school to return home to help with the family ranch when his father became ill.
In April 1959, Hank married the love of his life Lynn Ellefsen (Windsor). On one of their first dates, Hank asked Lynn if she wanted some fries to go with her hamburger. Lynn declined, but proceeded to steal fries off Hank’s plate for the reminder of the meal. Hank jokingly said the happiness and strength of their marriage relied on his knowing when to say “Yes dear” and always ordering extra fries. He died a month and a half before their 60th wedding anniversary. Hank and Lynn have two children, Cathy and Chris.
During the kids’ childhood, the entire family was very involved in 4-H and Hank continued to be involved in the agricultural community. Hank was a member of the Sonoma County Farm Bureau, was a District Director for Sonoma, Napa and Marin Counties, served on the California Farm Bureau Board of Directors, serving as the Finance Committee Chairman. Hank was also on the Board of Directors of the Windsor Winery, Sonoma County PCA (Pacific Credit Association), Healdsburg High School Board, and Sonoma County Farm Supply. He was a member of Ag. Leadership, class 2, which was formed in 1971 to educate young people in agriculture to become leaders in the industry.
Hank and his brother Del formed a partnership, Cornelssen Brothers, and started the first Vineyard Management in Sonoma County where they planted and managed vineyards in Sonoma and Napa County. The two also started Sonoma Grapevines with Rich Kunde and George Kozatch. Later on, Hank and Lynn owned Fulton Valley Feed store and Forest Glen Nursery. After they sold the stores, Hank went on to work at Sebastopol Hardware for 20 years, retiring in 2013.
Hank and Lynn loved to travel and did so as often as they could. They traveled to 16 countries and 36 states. One of their favorite trips was to India for two months where they represented the American Farm Bureau. It was a part of a Farmer to Farmer tour, where they lived in the village and exchanged agricultural experiences with local farmers.
Hank was an active member of the Thanksgiving Lutheran Church where he greatly enjoyed the monthly men’s breakfast.
Hank was preceded in death by his parents, Al and Caroline, and his brother, Del.
Hank is survived and sorely missed by his wife Lynn and their daughter Cathy (Jim) Estes and son Chris Cornelssen. He will forever be remembered as Santa by his grandchildren Heather (Mark) Leister, Stephanie (Sheri) Ables and Jeffrey (Darla) Estes, as well as his four great-grandchildren. Not to mention fondly remembered by his nephews Eric (Lile) Ellefsen, David (Laurie) Cornelssen and his nieces Karen Ellefsen, Debbie (Bill) Bigham, Becky (Ken) Roux and Wendy (Guy) Glazier. Hank has a barrage of friends and family who love and miss him dearly.
Memorial donations may be made to: Memorial Hospice, 439 College Ave, Santa Rosa, 95401; Redwood Caregivers, 1140 Sonoma Ave Ste 1B, Santa Rosa, 95401; Fit to Equality, Inc 100 E. Street Ste 104, Santa Rosa, 95404; Runwinecountry.com.
A celebration of life for Hank will be held on Saturday, April 6, 2019 at 1:00 pm at Eggen and Lance Chapel (1540 Mendocino Ave, Santa Rosa). A dessert reception will follow at Colonial Park (Shiloh and Fulton Road on Old Redwood Hwy, Santa Rosa). Army Military Honor Guard will conduct a ceremony at that time.