F. Duncan Cornell, lawyer, dies

He has served on the Board of Child Care of the United Methodist Church and also on the Maryland General Hospital board

  • Frank Duncan Cornell
Frank Duncan Cornell
January 05, 2011|By Frederick N. Rasmussen, The Baltimore Sun | Baltimore Sun reporter

F. Duncan Cornell, a retired lawyer who had served on the Board of Child Care of the United Methodist Church for nearly 50 years and was also a longtime Maryland General Hospital board member, died Friday of pneumonia at St. Joseph Medical Center.

The Lutherville resident had celebrated his 94th birthday last month.

Frank Duncan Cornell, the son of a psychiatrist and a homemaker, was born in New York City and raised in Menands, N.Y., a suburb of Albany.

Mr. Cornell, who was known as Duncan, was a 1934 graduate of the Milne School in Albany. He attended Union College and earned a bachelor's degree in 1938 from Albany Business College.

He was working for International Harvester Co. when he enlisted in the Army Air Corps in early 1941. Trained as a weather observer, he was assigned during World War II to Nutts Corner, Northern Ireland, and Bovington, England.

He was discharged as a technical sergeant in 1945. He moved to Baltimore with his wife, the former Elsa Baum, whom he had married in 1942.

"He moved to Maryland to pursue a career in the law, where two uncles, his brother and grandfather, Baltimore County Circuit Court Judge Frank I. Duncan, were established in the profession," said a daughter, Bettie C. Hauga, a social worker who lives in Cedar Hill, Mo.

He earned his degree in 1948 from the University of Maryland School of Law and was admitted to the Maryland bar that year.

Mr. Cornell, whose legal expertise was estate and trust law, began his legal practice in 1948 with Tydings, Sauerwein, Archer, Benson & Boyd at 10 Light St. in downtown Baltimore.

Mr. Cornell left the firm in 1967 and became a partner with Hooper, Kiefer and Cornell, later moving his office to West Pennsylvania Avenue in Towson.

From 1993 until retiring last year, Mr. Cornell was a sole practitioner whose office was in Lutherville. Anglee Mandish of Hampstead worked as his secretary for his entire law career.

For 35 years, until stepping down in early 1989, Mr. Cornell had served on the board of Maryland General Hospital in a variety of capacities, including as board chairman for seven years.

During his years with the hospital, he participated in the merger of Baltimore Eye, Ear, Nose and Throat Hospital with Maryland General; the opening of a new patient building; and the building of a 518-car parking garage.

He was chairman when the board negotiated for and acquired the old Richmond Armory and Market on North Howard Street, which was converted into outpatient clinics.

From 1965 until retiring in 2008, Mr. Cornell served on the board and was counsel to the Board of Child Care of the United Methodist Church.

"He began volunteering with us 48 years ago and served in numerous capacities as a member of our board," said Thomas L. Curcio, president and CEO of the Board of Child Care of the United Methodist Church.

"Duncan was a board member first and foremost. He ensured that the mission of the organization was helping children and families. That came first, and it was unconditional," Mr. Curcio said. "He didn't just want to be a board member. He was highly engaged in all that happened here. He was always prepared for meetings, had many questions and was ready to challenge."

He explained that Mr. Cornell "always acted in what was in the best interest of the children and their families, and … being on the board had nothing to do with him or who he was. He absolutely had no personal agenda."

"He was a compassionate man and passionate about our mission, and had helped thousands of children during his time here," Mr. Curcio said. "We are blessed and fortunate to have people like Duncan."

In addition, Mr. Cornell had served as general counsel to the Wesley Home Inc. and had been president of the board of trustees of the Strawbridge Home for Boys Inc., which now is part of the Board of Child Care of the United Methodist Church.

The longtime resident of Woodbine Avenue in West Towson had been a member since 1953 of Towson United Methodist Church, where for many years he sang with the church's Chancel Choir.

He had been a member of the Exchange Club of Northern Baltimore County, Mount Moriah Lodge 116 of A.F. & A.M., and the Boumi Temple.

He enjoyed vacationing at Lake George, N.Y., and boating on the Chesapeake Bay with his family.

"There was not a boatyard or water vista he could pass without checking it out," his daughter said.

He was an avid golfer and since 1980 had enjoyed the sport at the Country Club of Maryland, where he was a member. He also liked gardening and growing tomatoes, raspberries and rhubarb.

Mrs. Cornell died in 1988.

Services will be held at 1 p.m. Thursday at Ruck Towson Funeral Home, 1050 York Road.

Also surviving are a son, Frank Duncan Cornell of Dagsboro, Del.; another daughter, Donna C. Cohen of Reisterstown; seven grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.

fred.rasmussen@baltsun.com

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