|Birth: ||Oct. 18, 1920|
|Death: ||Dec. 24, 2008|
Jo Ann Cornell, 88, a former McAlester Prison Rodeo queen, died at her home in Weatherford on Dec., 24, said her son, Harrison Cornell. During her life, Cornell developed a friendship with legendary actor and American icon John Wayne. That came about after Cornell, who was a journalist and an accomplished equestrian, once wrote a story about whether Wayne could ride a horse. "John was irritated with the story she was writing, but he quickly learned she was a good horse rider and they got along great," said Cornell's son, Harrison Cornell. "And yes, John did know how to ride," he said. Wayne must have been impressed with Cornell, since he saddled up his horse and rode alongside her — proving the equestrian abilities he displayed on the silver screen were indeed bona fide. Cornell was born in Purcell in 1920, but her family later moved to McAlester, where her father, William Reeves, worked as a pharmacist and her mother, Emma, became known as a musician. While in McAlester, Cornell won more than the honor of serving as Oklahoma State Prison Rodeo queen. She also won a horse, Congo, that she rode during the rodeo's opening ceremonies. She later wrote about the rodeo for those not familiar with it. "Oklahoma had to have a prison rodeo because Texas, their big rival, had one first," Cornell said. "The rodeo was inside the prison walls with guards on the towers around the yard. I had a ‘lifer' assigned to be my bodyguard by the warden." After Cornell graduated from McAlester High School, she attended the Christian College for Women in Columbia. Mo., and then graduated from the University of Oklahoma, were she majored in English and literature. An accomplished rider, she also became an accomplished writer, working as a reporter for the Oklahoma City Times, the Daily Oklahoman and the New Orleans Times-Picayune in the 1940s. She met another journalist, George W. Cornell, from Weatherford, who proposed to her in Times Square in New York City during the countdown to the New Year of 1944. The couple married and lived in New York. Jo Ann Cornell wrote for magazines and later worked in real estate insurance, while her husband, George, became a religion writer for the Associated Press, their son said. She retired in 1992 and she and her husband built their dream ranch house near Weatherford, her son, Harrison, said. In 2000, she was diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease, he said. Her survivors also include her daughter, Marion Emma Cornell.
Published in the McAlester News Capital
by James Beaty, Senior Editor
Dec. 30, 2008
Jo Ann Cornell, age 88, left us to be with her Lord and Savior on December 24, 2008, Christmas Eve, at her home in Weatherford, OK. She will be deeply missed and leaves cherished memories with her family and friends. The daughter of the late William Allen Reeves and Emma Gibson, she was born Oct. 18, 1920, in Purcell, OK. Her great grandfathers, John Chenoweth of Savoy, Texas, and W.A. Gibson, were both surgeons in St. Louis during the Civil War on opposing sides. Mrs. Cornell graduated from McAlester High School. She attended the Christian College for Women in Columbia, MO. She received a B.A. degree in 1942 from the University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK. She majored in English and literature and was a member of Delta Delta Delta sorority. As a General Reporter she wrote for the Oklahoma City Times in 1943, during the following three years for the Daily Oklahoman, and in 1947 for the New Orleans Times Picayune. From 1948-52 she was a Business Reporter, and from 1952-59 she was Section Editor for Home Furnishings Daily, Fairchild Publications. From 1965-67 she was Copy & Feature Editor for American Metal Market. In the late 70s she was a Sales Representative for Robert L. Harding, Jr. Real Estate - Insurance until retiring in 1992. Mrs. Cornell grew up in McAlester with her dad, a pharmacist, and mother, a musician. She had two older brothers, James A. and E.C. Reeves, so grew up as a tomboy determined to explore and find her place in the world. Her hobbies included horseback riding, English and Western, swimming and fishing. Her pets, cats or dogs, were lucky to have her as a friend. She loved horses and became an equestrian instructor, enjoyed barrel racing, and was a rodeo queen. She met a fellow journalist, George W. Cornell, from Weatherford, OK, who proposed to her on Times Square in New York City during the New Year's countdown. On April 1, 1944, they were married. After he returned from serving in the Army during WWII, they moved to New York City. They were dutiful churchgoers and were part of the congregation of Calvary Episcopal Church, Gramercy Park, NY. Jo Ann became a mother in 1955, when she gave birth to her daughter, Marion Emma, and in 1960 a son, Harrison Reeves. They bought a house in Port Washington, NY in 1965. She was an AA member and quit drinking and cigarettes. She was very generous with her time and helped many seeking help. Her volunteer work included being a Girl Scout Leader, Troop 408, and Co-editor of Museum Pieces, a monthly newsletter for the North Shore Junior Science Museum, Bryant Preserve, Roslyn, Long Island. She was a member of League of Women Voters, North Shore Southern Society, and FISH, an interfaith community service. She was concerned about the environment and wildlife of the Earth. Her favorite bird was the roadrunner. She was proud to be a native Oklahoman, and in 1992 she retired, building a ranch house on their farm in Weatherford, OK. She loved the weather, and her ranch house on the hill was the place to see it. Her husband died in 1994. In 2000 she was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, and her son became her sole caregiver until her death. Jo Ann Cornell had a love of life, appreciating God's beauty in the world. Her generous love, lessons of life, little notes, will be remembered fondly through those she touched. She was preceded in death by her parents, her two brothers and husband. Survivors include her son Harrison Reeves Cornell, her daughter Marion Emma Cornell, her grandchildren H.R. Cornell, Tahlya Hinds, Tom Bodhi Reeves, and Yoko Miel Silk. In the late spring of 2009, a memorial will be held at the ranch house for family and friends. Contact: Harrison R. Cornell, PO Box 668, Weatherford, OK 73096.
(Published in The Oklahoman on 1/4/2009)
George W Cornell (1920 - 1994)
Created by: MillieBelle
Record added: Dec 30, 2008
Find A Grave Memorial# 32518364