Cherry Blossoms

Helen Cornell

July 19, 1933 ~ June 20, 2020 (age 86)


Helen Cornell, 86, of Scottsdale, AZ passed away peacefully at home on June 20, 2020 with her family by her side.  Helen was born on July 19, 1933 in West Allis, Wisconsin to Nettie and Henry DeFouw.  She was the fifth of six children.  Helen graduated from West Allis Central High School in 1951.  After graduating high school, she was awarded the Allis-Chalmer scholarship to Lake Forest College, in Illinois where she graduated in 1955.  Shortly after graduation, she married Richard F. Cornell on August 20, 1955.  Their marriage was blessed with three daughters, Deborah Jeanne (Cornell) Pool – 1957, Mary Elizabeth Cornell - 1961, and Kathleen Carol (Cornell) Hanrahan - 1963.  Helen was an ongoing student throughout her adult life and a woman of strong faith.  In addition to her career as a journalist and public relations professional, she received an advanced degree in “Education for Ministry” from the University of the South, Sewanee.  She also studied and received her national accreditation as a PR professional (APR) from the Public Relations Society of America in 1987 and became a lifetime member of the Arizona Press Women.  Over the course of her thirty-year career, Helen served as a writer for the Maryvale Star, before becoming the Editor in the early 1970’s.  She was a reporter for the Phoenix Gazette covering the growth and development of small emerging cities west of Phoenix (AZ).  She founded and partnered a public relations firm. And, before accepting her most treasured position as “Grandma Extraordinaire” in early 1991, Helen served as the Public Information Officer and Special Events Coordinator for the City of Glendale, AZ (1977 – 1990) - a position she genuinely loved.  During her tenure with the City she was responsible for creating and managing Glendale’s signature events which included the annual Balloon Race and the 4th of July celebration, in addition to ensuring the activities of the City were properly communicated to the public.  After achieving career success, Helen filled the last chapter of her life as a caregiver/nanny for her grandchildren.  From 1991 until 2014 when her youngest granddaughter graduated high school, Helen provided a nurturing environment that gave each of her six grandchildren: Rachel Limberg, Joshua Weirick, Michael Pool, Jeffrey Hanrahan, Caroline Pool and Katelyn Hanrahan a sense of family, and unconditional love.  Known to each of them as “Gram” she will be remembered for all the adventures they enjoyed together, the experiences shared during their “trips to school in Gram’s car” and the pranks they played on each other.  Helen was preceded to Heaven by her parents, her brothers Harry, Harold and Howard DeFouw, her sister Marguerite Phinney and her ex-husband Richard Cornell.  She is survived by a family who loves her dearly, her sister Alyce (Russell Weiss), daughters Debbie Pool (Kevin Pool), Mary Cornell, Kathy Hanrahan (Tom Hanrahan); her grandchildren – Rachel Limberg, Michael (& Whitney) Pool, Joshua Weirick, Jeffrey (& Michelle-Wallace) Hanrahan, Caroline (& Adán) Ordoñez, Katie (& Andrew) Stephens and her great grandchildren (the true sparkle in Gigi’s eyes): Lucas, Emiliana, Quinn, Asher, Ari, Kiera, Isla, Camilo and Baby Abby who is due in August of 2020.  Helen is also survived by her extended family to include her Hanrahan family, cousins, nieces, nephews, and their children, as well as friends whose lives she changed with her presence.  A small Memorial Services was held on June 24th for her immediate family, but a “Celebration of Helen’s Life” is being planned for later in the summer at her beloved church, Good Shepard of the Hills in Cave Creek.

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