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Walter Merle Cornelius



To be announced

Homewood Retirement Community


Walter Merle Cornelius, of Williamsport, MD, passed away at Meritus Hospital on July 16, 2019 with loved ones by his side.  Born Nov. 13, 1931 in Cumberland, MD, Merle attended Ridgeley High School. At age 17, he enlisted in the USAF, and served from Oct. 1949 until his discharge in Oct. 1952. He earned a Bachelor of Arts from Shepherd College, and a Master's Degree in Education from Western Maryland College. A strong proponent of higher learning, he completed additional post-graduate courses to support his educational career and interests. Merle was a teacher and administrator, primarily in the public schools of Washington County Maryland. 

Merle was a lifelong fan of college and professional team sports, had a passionate love for many musical genres, and was an avid reader, especially of historical literature. Since his interests and knowledge were so diverse, he welcomed engaging others in conversation about a myriad of topics. He enjoyed restoring and selling antiques in his retirement, and taught himself clock repair and restoration. He also enjoyed collecting vintage glassware and novelties, and shared this interest with family and friends. While education was his lifelong passion, he considered his family his greatest achievement and legacy. 

Merle married the love of his life, Doris Jean Fearnow Cornelius, on May 31, 1956, with whom he shared 63 years of marriage ending with his death. For most of their marriage, they resided in Washington County, where they raised their four children. He is survived by son, Terry Cornelius and wife, Linda of Salisbury, MD; their son, Chris Maas and wife, Emily; and step-grandchildren, Lily and Brody of Apex, NC. Daughter, Cindy Rockwell, and husband, Craig of Mercersburg, PA and Sullivan's Island, SC; granddaughter, Leah Rockwell of Mercersburg, PA and great-granddaughters, Louisa and Eve Gunkleman; grandson, Matt Rockwell, and wife Olalla Prado of Frederick, MD and great-grandchildren Telmo and Uma; granddaughter, Liza Patterson and husband, Jess of Charleston, SC, and great-granddaughter, Genevieve. Son, Randy Cornelius and wife, Susan of Hagerstown, MD; grandson, Adam Cornelius and his wife, Megan of Glen Allen, VA; great-grandsons, Jack Mazzocco and Max Walter Cornelius; and great-granddaughters, Charlotte and Olivia Cornelius; granddaughter, Amy Cornelius and fiance, Nash Prince of Raleigh, NC; and daughter, Suzy VanMetre and husband Eddie of Williamsport, MD; granddaughters Rachel VanMetre of Harper's Ferry, WV and Veronica VanMetre of Williamsport, MD; beloved sister, Ruth Orndorff of Shepherdstown, WV and numerous cousins and nieces.

Merle was preceded in death by his father, Walter Merle Cornelius, Sr and mother, Addie Viola Cornelius; and beloved sister, Barbara Taylor Sherman, formerly of Hagerstown, MD.

A memorial service at Homewood Retirement Community will be announced at a later date.  Memorial donations may be made to Wounded Warrior Project, 4899 Belfort Road, Suite 300 Jacksonville, FL 32256.

Arrangements have been entrusted to the Douglas A. Fiery Funeral Home 1331 Eastern Blvd North, Hagerstown, MD 

Online condolences may be expressed at

Guest Book

To Veronica and family: praying for you and yours as you celebrate the earthly testimony of a life well-lived and a man much beloved. God bless you all. With love from Bryn “Honey” Robinson, Dion Fisher, Eletta Fouche’ and Austin.

Bryn Bacy Robinson
Oklahoma City , OK

Walter M. Cornelius was a true hero of America's forgotten victory- the Korean War. Though not a member of Antietam Chapter 312 Korean War Veterans Association, nevertheless we condole with you on your loss.

Charles Mobley
Hagerstown, MARYLAND

Dear Doris and family, So sorry to hear of Merle’s passing. You and your family will be in my thoughts and prayers. Merle was a great person and will be missed. But memories will go on forever. Pam Boone

Pam Boone

Terry and Linda, So sorry for your loss. He sounds like a wonderful person!

Rose Smith
Auburn, AL

What a gentle educational leader Merle was to us. He knew all about education, students, parents, teachers and how to bring out the best in us. I am grateful. Love and peace, Tina Angle

Tina Angle
Maugansville, MD

I remember you dad when he was my principal at Maugansville Elementary School, I am sorry for your loss.

Amanda Brimer
Marion , Md

My Heartfelt & Sincere Prayers and Condolences Go Out To The Entire Family. Terry & Cindy Prayers & Blessings Alfred

Alfred Jones
Hagerstown, MD

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