William “Bill” Cornelius, 65
William “Bill” Cornelius, of Summit Lake, died Monday, October 8, 2018, at his home under the care of his companion, family and hospice. He was 65 years old. He was born on June 29, 1953, in Antigo, a son of the late Raymond “Shorty” and Doreen (Doucette) Cornelius.
He attended both Antigo and Elcho High School but enlisted in the United States Army at age 17 where he received his diploma.
Bill proudly served in the Army from December 12, 1970, to November 26, 1972, where he earned a Defense Service Medal, Sharpshooter Badge, and Expert Badge in mortar munitions. Bill loved his country.
He was an independent, self-made outdoorsman. He lived for hunting and fishing. During his youth, his parents owned and operated Walleye Lodge on Rolling Stone Lake in Pearson. He and his 5 brothers grew up enjoying the lakes and woods. Bill loved to check his trail cameras daily to see if there was a “hog wholloper”, ride his 4-wheeler every chance he could…but not too fast as to not miss any wildlife, tracks, runways, rubs, scrapes, beehives, burls, or handy firewood. The cold never stopped him, he loved every season and took advantage of it. In spring, just after the ice would go out, nothing was better to him than going and getting a “nice mess” of crappies. He was an expert fisherman but loved crappies the most. He enjoyed teaching so many of his tips and tricks to those around him. Bill also loved going walleye fishing with his brothers. With good ice, you would find him out jigging from hole to hole or using the “Tip-Downs” that he made for crappies. He was always watching us kids to make sure we didn’t drop the scoop in “the drink”. He had very unique and creative ways of doing things.
Bill loved to cook. He always planned his meals in advance, prepared them with care, and loved to host dinner with family. Whether it was pulled pork sandwiches, chicken dumpling soup, boiled dinner, meatloaf, a hearty roast, or meat on the shingles, he took great pride in it. He was famous for the best fish fry, where family swarmed him to join in. He was passionate about a great meal and loved to share that passion with others through advice on cooking techniques or coming over to show and help. He would always say, “boy we eat good”, and we did! He was proud of his collection of quality USA made pots, knives, and cutting boards and often showed off his recent finds from a flea market. “Bill’s Country Kitchen” was memorable.
Cutting firewood for him was not work. He thoroughly enjoyed every part of the process…the find, cutting it up with his son Matt or Diney, splitting it into the perfect sized pieces, and stacking it with great care and precision. He always made sure to never leave the small pieces, but use it all…he would say, “they are like gold”. His pride was easily seen with his apple orchard that he cared for or through his meticulously maintained home, inside and out.
His son and daughter in-law held a special place with him. Bill and Ashlee would often discuss recipes, neat ways to cook or prepare dishes, and really grew a tight bond through their shared interest in cooking. Bill would often use the phrase “throw the book away” with Shawn and enjoyed teaching him clever ways to look at situations in life.
Bill’s children were always on his mind. He was always looking out for his Jenny Lynn and enjoyed regular phone conversations with his son Matthew. He taught his children so many life lessons right up until the very end, things that were important to him, that will pass on down the generations. Thank you for that Dad, we cherish your ways.
His 5 grandchildren brought him so much joy. Papa seeing Brechlyn’s first buck that she shot made him so proud and he really enjoyed the time she helped care for him during his last few months. Papa Bill enjoyed watching Mckinley shoot her bow in archery club and off of his deck. Cale and Papa had a shared interest in football and it brought a big smile to his face seeing Cale wearing his packer’s helmet and uniform. Grandpa would always tease Avery by asking her, “don’t you talk?”, because she was shy and he loved her big smile. Emmie melted his heart and brought tears to his eyes just holding and loving her.
He was simple, used only what he needed, lived a modest life, within his means, and with no excess. A life where you rinse and reuse paper plates and rip the “toweling” in half. A life where you hem your own pants or patch a leak in your rubber boot. A life where you filet the cheek meat out of pan fish for a special bite at dinner. A life where you sew a hook on your dishtowel so it stays hung or roll and clip your toothpaste to get every last drop. A life where the process was just as much reward as the result.
He was somewhat of a stoic man, but cared deeply in his way for his children, grandchildren, those close to him, his brothers, and his late “Mother Superior”. He lived a certain way that could be seen in all that he did. He had a personality and sense of humor larger than life, and boy did he have a contagious laugh. He accepted Jesus as his Savior many years ago and spoke much of his anticipation to join his Heavenly Father as his battle with cancer loomed. He was a fighter, tough as nails, a survivor, Father, companion, brother, son, and friend. He will be missed greatly but seen again. What we have learned from you over the years and most recently truly has been a “giant step for mankind”. We love you so much Dad, “don’t let your meat loaf”.
Survivors include four children, Jenny (Shawn) Behrens of Antigo; Matthew (Ashlee) Cornelius of Antigo, Chelsea Cornelius of Chicago and Catlyn Cornelius of La Crosse; five grandchildren, Brechlyn Flannery, Cale Behrens, Mckinley, Avery and Emmie Cornelius; companion Diane Bremer of Summit Lake; four brothers, Thomas (Roberta) Cornelius of Rhinelander, John (Marjorie) Cornelius of Rice, MN, James (Laurel) Cornelius of Gillett, and Michael (Robbie) Cornelius of Rhinelander; and dear friend John Haas.
In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by a brother, Robert Cornelius.
A graveside service with military honors provided by Antigo veterans will take place at the Queen of Peace Cemetery in Antigo on Saturday, October 20th at 11:00 am. If you have fond memories of Bill and are able to join, please do.