Spencer Mead Cornell

Spencer Mead Cornell

Spencer passed away on April 24, 2020 at Veterans Hospital – Jefferson Barracks located in St. Louis, Missouri.  He was 94 years old. Spencer was born on September 23, 1925 in Kingsville, Texas.  He was one of ten children born to union of the late Odell Eugene and Mary Jane (Mamie) Cornell.  Growing up in South Texas, Spencer attended Frederick Douglass Elementary School and later traveled to Corpus Christi, Texas to attend High School at Solomon Coles. At the age of 20, Spencer joined the U.S. Air Force and served from 1945 to 1947.  After military service he worked on the Missouri Pacific Railroad which brought him to the St. Louis Metropolitan area in early 1950’s.  He met and then married Ida Louise DuMaine on October 4, 1953.  Edward and Rochelle were the children born to this union.  Ida and Edward preceded him in death.

Early in his career, Spencer served as a photographer for a local St. Louis African American newspaper where he took photos of National Civil Rights Leaders and local celebrities within the African American Community.  During the 1960’s Spencer had an opportunity to work for the Federal Government.  Through self study and determination he became a highly skilled lithographic photographer and was hired by the Aeronautical Chart and Information Center (ACIC) which is now known as the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA).  His proudest achievement was producing photographic and charting products generated from the Apollo Moon Missions.  In addition, a photo showing him working was included in a display sent to the Smithsonian in Washington D.C.  He retired from Federal Service in 1981. Driven with a life long entrepreneurial spirit, Spencer started Snack-A-Male a fast food business in the early 1960’s and established the Odell Cornell Corporation, a future business vision for the Cornell Family Descendants.  Spencer passionately shared his experiences and knowledge of history and life  philosophies.  He will be remembered for saying, “This is a temporary life” and “You have to die to live”.  Spencer lived life according to his truth and certainly did live well, expressed himself fully and will be remembered by many.

Spencer is survived by his daughter, Rochelle Cornell, one brother, Robert Cornell, nieces and nephews:  Patricia Penelton (Harry); James Tomlinson (Jenell); Sean Cornell Kitchen; Carmen Cornell Martin (Jack); Clifford Cornell (Debra); Sonya Cornell Brooks; Valeria Cornell; Eleanore Cornell; Elliun Cornell (Icy); Charles Cornell; Alex Cornell and numerous grand nieces, nephews, extended family and special friends.


  1. Thomas B on May 12, 2020 at 6:24 pm

    I’ve always enjoyed visiting Mr. Cornell. He had great personal stories that told about tenacity, accomplishments and to always encourage others as we are being blessed. When he talked about sad times, he always had that quick smile to assure you that it was in Gods hand. I’m going to miss traveling back to St. Louis and not having the opportunity to visit him. Rest in Peace Dad.

  2. Courtney (Cornell) Grear on November 8, 2020 at 1:26 pm

    Wow! I’m actually just now find out the news. I’m the grandson of his brother, Robert Cornell. While I saddened by this, I do know that Uncle Spencer lived a full life.

  3. Nicki Cornell Grear-El on December 9, 2020 at 4:53 pm

    I absolutely loved my Uncle Spencer who is my Daddy’s (Robert C. Cornell) Brother.
    He would visit us every so often, with stories & knick knacks to share.
    Smooth he was.

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