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Phyllis Marie Cornwell

3/11/1926 – 01/18/2021

Dear Family and Friends,

Phyllis passed away peacefully in her sleep January 18th. She would have been 95 on March 11 this

Thank you to everyone who has reached out and shared their condolences and shared a favorite

I think I speak for a lot of us (especially us women) when I say that she lived an exemplary life.

I met Phyllis the summer Pete and I started dating. She was 77 years old. I remember being inspired by
her caring heart and humor. I was amazed at her caregiving qualities, not just with her son,Willie, but
with her community as well. She was always off to work a church spaghetti supper or to help neighbors
run errands.

I studied my sweet mother in law like I was going to someday write a screenplay of her life. I enjoyed
all of her stories from every decade.

Phyllis’ first friend in life was Maybelle. Phyllis often spoke of how they were only 6 days apart and in
the playpen together. Maybelle and Phyllis would talk almost weekly and when Phyllis couldn’t make
phone calls anymore, Maybelle would check with Pete to see how her “friend” was doing.
Phyllis took her drivers test on Navy Pier at the age of 12. (Sidebar: she also lied to the DMV so Petey
could get his drivers license when he was 15)

She liked to drive me crazy telling me of all the times she stood in line to see Frank Sinatra at the
Chicago Theater. SWOON!

As a young single woman, she would take the South Shore Train from Hegewisch (Far Southside) to
downtown Chicago to her job at the Continental Bank & Trust Company. She would describe her
wardrobe and how she would meet her best friend Deebo for dinner and catch the last train home. You
would of thought she was the orginal Carrie from Sex and The City.

She spoke lovingly of her days in “The God Damn Glee Club” at the American Legion Post #272. She
often talked about how much fun she had singing with the gals ithat included her sister Doris and her
long time friends, Deebo, Helen, June, Jeane, Irene, Betty, Carol, and Ruth.

After she married Captain Cornwell the fun stories continued with their sailboat adventures on The
SunRa. She would tell me Bob’s favorite time to sail was when it was snowing ,so he could see which
way the wind was blowing; also how she would be Bob’s “first mate” slicing tomatos in the galley
during high seas and watching fish swim by the portholes. My favorite line of hers was when she told
me, “Captain Cornwell can find any Sea Port in the world but he can’t find the ketchup in the

She didn’t just care about family, friends and community. Phyllis was a LOVER of dogs! We all
remember her affection for the smartest dog in the world Bandit, as well as Maggie, Fred, Oprah,
Whoopie, Buddy, and Chauncey.

Phyllis was an avid reader and was fond of mystery novels. She loved books by Patricia Cornwell.
Phyllis talked fondly of working at Arkins bookstore in South Haven. She shared great memories of
working with Gretchen and Lynn and going on buying trips to Chicago.

Her years at Munson Lake in Grand Junction are full of wonderful memories of four generations of
Anderson/Cornwell/Zorich. From she and Bob owning the store, the kids driving around on the
machines (snowmobiles), and dinners at the North Lake Inn.

We had many, many, many, Monday Jazz nights at The What Not Inn listening to Wally and the band,
and eating fish and chips. She said when she was at The What Not her knee didn’t hurt so much.
Her home was always full of family and friends dropping in for a cocktail and “cheese and cracks”
while listening to BB King singing the blues. She even trained a couple of young bartenders how to
make a stinger. (Bobby & Wyatt)

I always knew when Pete was talking with his mom on the phone. He would only laugh that hard while
speaking with her.

So raise a glass to our dear Phyllis NOSTROVIA!

To send a message of sympathy to the family, sign Phyllis’ online guest book, or to share a favorite memory, please visit:

Cremation arrangements are entrusted to Michigan Cremation & Funeral Care, Grand Rapids, 616-452-3006.


Let the family know you care by sharing this tribute.

2 Condolences

  1. Sharon Cook on January 20, 2021 at 12:22 pm

    Phyllis was a very caring loving person. I was very glad to meet such a wonderful Lay. She definitely had some stories to tell for sure. I enjoyed working for her doing yard work and moving furniture around or whatever she needed done along with Terri Ann Page. Having a cocktail with her was awesome awesome too. Then the stories even came out more, Lol. May you R.I.P. Sweet Lady, Go fly high. I will never forget you. Love You…

  2. Nicole on January 23, 2021 at 1:22 am

    The first time I met Deans Great Aunt Phyllis.. Dean and I were taking a drive from Gram Shirley’s. ( Phyllis and Shirley were sister-in-law’s) we decided to drop by her house w/ our daughter Kaden.. Phyllis was so happy to see us and right away offers us a drink. We said anything you have is fine w/ us. Phyllis handed us each a MGD bottle and when we took the cap off it was apparently so old that there was a rust on the bottle after we took the Off… Of course we drankit with no second guesses not to be ignorant houseguests. Me and Dean laugh w/ great pride about it to this day.She shared memories w/ us and we had such a great time!! Rest in Heaven beautiful lady..XXOOX

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