Loyal benefactor and Presbyterian College trustee emeritus George Henry Cornelson IV passed away on July 8, 2021, at his home in Clinton.
Born July 12, 1931, in Spartanburg, he was the only child of the late George H. Cornelson III and Elizabeth Woodward Cornelson. The retired president and chief executive officer of Clinton Mills, Cornelson was one of PC’s staunchest supporters.
He served four terms on the College’s board of trustees for a total of 20 years and received an honorary doctorate of public service from PC in 2003. He and his wife, Ann, were recognized as distinguished members of the William Plumer Jacobs Society in 2007 for their impactful philanthropy to PC. In addition to establishing several endowments, the couple generously supported the renovation of Neville Hall and the addition of the Cornelson Center.
PC president Dr. Matthew vandenBerg hailed Cornelson for a lifetime of service to family, community, and the College.
“George Cornelson may not have graduated from Presbyterian College, but certainly earned his status as an honorary alumnus through his servant leadership, loyalty, and generous spirit,” he said. “The consummate gentleman, he was every bit a Blue Hose who lived his life by PC’s motto, ‘While We Live, We Serve.’ We will never forget his steadfast commitment to and support of PC. We will miss him greatly and are keeping Ann and the entire Cornelson family in our prayers.”
In addition to his wife of 64 years, Cornelson is survived by his four children – George Henry Cornelson V (Kim), Martin Shaw Cornelson (Karin), Scott Montgomery Cornelson, and Elizabeth Cornelson Robinson (Shep). He also is survived by 10 grandchildren – Martin Shaw Cornelson Jr. (Amanda), Miller Gwynn Cornelson, George Henry Cornelson VI, Scott Montgomery Cornelson II (Katherine), Campbell Bolt Cornelson, John Shepard Robinson III, Henry Shaw Cornelson, Rivers Scott Cornelson, Catherine Rose Cornelson Wittig (Davis), and Elizabeth Robinson Williams (Rob). Cornelson had one great-grandson, Cabell Weisiger Cornelson.
Cornelson earned a degree in textile management from North Carolina State University in 1953 and also attended Davidson College and the Harvard Graduate School of Management. After he served as a lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force, he returned to Clinton in 1957 to begin an illustrious career at Clinton Mills. He became the company’s vice president in 1958 and served as president from 1979 until his retirement in 1986, at which time Clinton Mills operated 11 mills in six states.
Cornelson was an industry leader. He served as president of the boards of the S.C. Textile Manufacturers Association, the N.C. Textile Association, and the American Textile Manufacturers Institute. In 1965, N.C. State named him its Outstanding Young Alumnus.
After retirement, Cornelson continued to serve his community, especially as a member of the board of the Bailey Foundation, where he served as chairman for more than 40 years. He served on the boards of Thornwell Home and School for Children, the S.C. Chamber of Commerce, and the S.C. State Museum Foundation. He chaired the boards of the Laurens County Health Care System, the Clinton Planning Commission, and was a trustee of Davidson College, Columbia Theological Seminary, and the N.C. Textile Foundation, in addition to PC. He also was a founding director of Musgrove Mill Golf Club. For his lifetime commitment to serving his state, Cornelson earned the Order of the Palmetto in 2009.
He was a member of First Presbyterian Church of Clinton for more than 78 years and served there as both a deacon and an elder.