George Henry Cornelson ’53

George Henry Cornelson passed into God’s eternal care on July 8th, 2021 at his home Merrie Oaks in Clinton, SC surrounded by his loving family.

Born on July 12, 1931, George was the only child of George Henry Cornelson III and Elizabeth Woodward Cornelson who sadly passed away five days before his 2nd birthday. George was born and spent his primary years in Spartanburg under the doting care of his beloved grandmother Emma Bailey Cornelson, and his aunt and uncle, Rose and Walter Montgomery who instilled in him the importance of God’s presence in his life, his strong work ethic, and his indelible sense of right and wrong.

After attending public schools in both Spartanburg and Clinton, George went to the McCallie School in Chattanooga, TN, and after graduating in 1949, he followed his father, and grandfather to Davidson College where he was on the football and swimming teams and joined the Kappa Alpha Fraternity. During high school and college, he spent his summers working in textile mills in Clinton, Lydia, Spartanburg, and Raleigh, where he learned the value of integrity, determination, persistence, and hard work.

With his family’s involvement, and his growing love of textiles, he transferred to North Carolina State University where he graduated in 1953 in Textile Management. Upon graduation George attended the Harvard Graduate School of Business before he had to return to Clinton to care for his beloved grandmother Emma after his father died suddenly in 1954.

Fulfilling his ROTC commitment, George served as a lieutenant in the Air Force, and during his service, he married Ann Martin Shaw of Raleigh on October 6, 1956. She was the love of his life for 64 years.

George returned to Clinton in 1957 to begin his textile career at Clinton Mills, becoming Vice President in 1958, President in 1979 and retired as C.E.O. in 1986 at which time Clinton Mills operated 11 plants in six states. George was a respected industry leader serving as President and on the Boards of the SC Textile Manufacturers Association, the NC Textile Association, and the American Textile Manufacturers Institute. He shared many fun times for over fifty years in the Beattie Watts Stevens, and “Lint Heads” textile organizations. In 1965 George was named NC State University’s Outstanding Young Alumnus.

In 1987, when the operating philosophy of Clinton Mills, Inc. changed, George retired and focused on MS Bailey & Son Bankers, The Bailey Foundation, where he served as Chairman for over forty years, and helped improve the lives of many in Clinton, and around the State. He served on the boards of Presbyterian College, Thornwell Home, SC Chamber of Commerce, SC State Museum Foundation, Chair of the Laurens County Health Care System, Chair of the Clinton Planning Commission, Life Trustee of Independent Colleges of SC, Trustee of Davidson College, Columbia Theological Seminary, The NC Textile Foundation and many other business and civic organizations. He was a founding director of Musgrove Mill Golf Club.

In honor of his life of service George was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from Presbyterian College and became Trustee Emeritus. In 2009, in honor of his service to South Carolina, George was awarded the Order of the Palmetto. George was a strong, quiet, dignified leader, who was always a consummate southern gentleman.

He was a member of the First Presbyterian Church of Clinton, SC for over 78 years where he served as a Deacon, and Elder. When he could no longer attend services in person, he always enjoyed watching Dr. Jeri Perkin’s sermons on Livestream.

George was above all a wonderful husband to his loving wife Ann, and a generous and exemplary father, and grandfather to his four children, ten grandchildren and one great grandson. He is survived by his wife, Ann Shaw Cornelson, three sons: George Henry Cornelson V(Kim), Martin Shaw Cornelson (Karin), Scott Montgomery Cornelson, and daughter Elizabeth Cornelson Robinson “Woodie”( Shep.)

In addition to their four children, he and Ann have eight grandsons, two granddaughters, and one great grandson. Their grandsons are Martin Shaw Cornelson, Jr. (Amanda), Miller Gwynn Cornelson, George Henry Cornelson VI, Scott Montgomery Cornelson II (Katherine), Campbell Bolt Cornelson, John Shepard Robinson III, Henry Shaw Cornelson, and Rivers Scott Cornelson. Their granddaughters are Catherine Rose Cornelson Wittig (Davis), and Elizabeth Robinson Williams (Rob) and his great grandson, Cabell Weisiger Cornelson.

George’s family is deeply appreciative to Laurens County Hospice, and to his individual caregivers Adell Thompson, Allen Butler, Carolyn Roberts, Larena Finley, and Ana Hernandez for their compassionate care during this difficult time.

There will be a visitation with the family at Merrie Oaks on Saturday, July 10th from 5-7 PM. A celebration of life service will be held at First Presbyterian Church in Clinton, SC on Sunday, July 11 ,2021 conducted by the Dr. Jeri Perkins at 4:00 pm.

Memorials may be made to Hospice of Laurens County, 1304 Springdale Drive, Clinton, SC 29325, the Thornwell Home, 302 South Broad Street Clinton, SC 29325, Presbyterian College, 503 South Broad Street, Clinton, SC 29325 or to the charity of your choice. Gray Funeral Home in Clinton is assisting the family.

Copyright: Copyright 2021 Herald-Journal (Spartanburg, SC)