George Granville Cornell was born on May 16th, 1961 in Lamesa, Texas to Jane and Kenneth Cornell, Sr. He died suddenly of an unknown cause February 10, 2011 at Parkland Hospital Emergency. His family has been awed by your show of concern and support through this process. George's life was not an easy life but a life of struggle with unseen forces from an unknown place. But, George was a gentle soul that displayed courage to make the best of his circumstances.
His family moved to Sanger, Texas when he and his siblings were very small. He enjoyed all the usual things like building roads in the dirt with his brother and building a steady stream of projects with Legos. Later, George took up building model ships with a little help from Mom. This was the begining of a lifelong love of boats and boatbuilding. As an adult he did build small boats with a friend and for awhile lived on his own sailboat moored at Lake Lewisville. Still he dreamed of bigger things--a big sailboat to go up the Intracoastal Canal--surely he could catch enough fish to pay his way--he could live very cheaply.
By the time George got to Sanger High School, his parents had divorced. A bummer for any kid but George was industrious and got a summer job with a local fence company. They were amazed that a skinny kid could work so fiercely. Building things came naturally to him. About this time his dad figured the boys were capable of real "man work" so he put them to work in the family business--Cornell Construction Co. His brother Kenneth developed into an electrician and George took up plumbing. Together they helped build quite a few homes. He never developed a love of plumbing but over the years he enjoyed doing small plumbing projects for friends and neighbors.
He saved a little money and bought a bright yellow Triumph Spitfire convertable. George soon realized that the engine needed to be rebuilt. He took on the job himself and with some help from his best friend's dad, finally got it up and running. It seemed he could do about anything he set his mind to doing.
He was not all about work though. Ask his sister Jeri about the time he and a friend brought a horse into her bedroom to surprise her when she woke up. Mom slept blissfully through all of this.
He attended North Texas State University in Denton for two years, studying computer science. He worked nights at Flow Memorial Hospital in data processing.
Soon he left school to work full time. He did programming for a chemical sales company, for Petrodata designing software to monitor its far-flung oil and gas leases, and Star Tours, a travel agency specializing in tours to Asia.
Bicycles were a great love. But not just any would do. It had to be custom made to fit his body. He carefully chose the type of metal for the frame, just the right tires,specified each part-- gathering them from many different countries. An expert bike builder from somewhere up north built it for him and he was so proud of it . He joined a bicycle club and spent weekends at club events. He saved his money for a much dreamed of trip to Holland, dreaming of just riding thru the country side seeing the flowers, passing through quaint towns,maybe even experiencing the city life of Amsterdam, checking out the house boat life on the canals--maybe even renting one for a while--who knows he might stay there.
Although there were troubling signs during his childhood, It was about this time that disturbing thoughts kept intruding in his mind. As they kept getting more frequent and insistent he began to cut back his work hours. The thoughts seemed more troublesome at work. Soon they overwhelmed him. He might as well have been attacked by a monster. This is the work of schizophrenia. It has been a long trip with right turns and wrong turns, always seeking an answer. Periods of fear, but also periods of hope and creativity. Sometimes in the hospital and sometimes making fresh starts. It was in one of his good periods his father became terminally ill. George was able to rise to the occasion to give him what would be deemed exellent care by anyone's standards.
After his dad's passing he wanted to finish another project-- his third cabin. He liked being in tiny quarters and was facinated with making the most of small spaces. He wanted to make his own electricity, heat and purified water. He built it on a his mother's lot at Rainbow Valley, north of Denton. This is a co-op community with ecological ideals and is still unfolding. George wanted to live lightly on the earth. He included some ingenious features such as rain barrels to collect water off the roof which then went through his filtering system and came out pure and sweet tasting! Solar panels furnished enough electricity to have lights. Propane for heat and a composting toilet made him pretty self sufficient. He liked his neighbors and felt at home. He loved the rolling hills, valleys and creeks and he could actually see the blackness of the sky and the brightness of the stars at night!
After this period of lightness in his life the clouds rolled in again as it is the nature of this illness. He eventually came to live with his mom, Jane, in Dallas. Once again stabilized his head filled with many plans. His interest in building crystal radios necessitated the need for little boxes to house the parts. From that he came to share his moms interest in woodworking and they worked together and separately on projects. From various different radios he went on to build speakers for himself and his mom, as music was very important to him.
His mother had been seeking to quieten her own mind and found respite and strength in Nicherin Buddhism and chanting daily. George was happy about this as it seemed to be giving her more focus and she was easier to get along with. He chanted a little bit in the quiet of his little travel trailer parked in the back yard and once with his mom.
George's last years were very creative and for a long period he kept the demons away. His last disturbance came on quickly and his life ended as he was seeking help. His family is very impressed with his courage to fight this battle and yet want to dedicate himself to looking after the welfare of his mother. He was a wonderful help to her in many ways. The best thing he gave us was himself --and he was always himself. The George you saw was the George you got-- and thats okay. We are better people for having known and loved him. Life lessons were learned all around and we are grateful to him for that. Amen.