Rillie Ernestine Cornelius passed away surrounded by family on November 12, 2020. Youngest of three children, Rillie was born in Birmingham, Alabama to the late Ellen Coe Strong and Ernest Crews. Her family soon moved to Memphis, Tennessee which she always considered home. During her years in Memphis, she taught dance, Sunday school and was a member of the Daughters of the Nile.
Rillie met her husband, the late Harold "Sparky" Cornelius, USN, at the USO in Memphis, Tennessee during WWII. They both loved to dance and entered many jitterbug contests together. They married November 15, 1945 in San Francisco. They moved to Vacaville, California where Sparky sold cars and Rillie volunteered at Travis Air Force Base as a Gray Lady and was a top salesperson for the Fuller Brush Company. As their family grew and business opportunities arose, they moved to Concord, Sacramento and then San Jose when they purchased Stevens Creek Toyota in Santa Clara. They raised five children together, travelled the world, and were married for 55 years.
Rillie was a vivacious, high-energy woman whose joy in life was her family. She loved music, especially Elvis. Rillie had many hobbies including sewing, restoring antiques, crafts, and scrapbooking. She loved woodworking, power tools and the garage was her domain. She was very involved in her children’s schools where she volunteered as room mom and facilitated after school events. She was also involved in leadership with the Girl Scout organization. Rillie enjoyed vacation homes in Discovery Bay and Tahoe where she was able to spend time with her kids and grandkids. Rillie loved the outdoors and enjoyed gardening, fishing, cross-country skiing, RVing and camping. Later in life, she enjoyed going to bluegrass festivals where she could camp and listen to music.
Rillie is survived by her children; Trina Ellen Cornelius of San Jose, Eddy (Kim) Cornelius of Danville, Stephen (Dawn) Cornelius of Bonny Doon, Robert (Suzanne) Cornelius of Los Gatos, Sherri Cornelius (Bob) Hyde of Soquel; sixteen grandchildren, Kelli Lyons, Brittany Cornelius, Ryan Cornelius, Michael Cornelius, Brandon Cornelius, Eric Cornelius, Laura (Joe) Ostarello, Trae (Tessa) McNeill, Colleen (Erik) Beeson, Jon Cornelius, Andrew Cornelius, William (Ani) Cornelius, Isaac (Holly) Cornelius, Jamie Hyde, Jake Hyde, Jeremy Hyde; nine great grandchildren, Austin (Deanna) Lyons, Chantel (Tim) Cole, Isabelle Cornelius, Gianna Ostarello, Alice Beeson, Darrien Beeson, Zander Beeson, Damia Beeson, and Cash Cornelius; three great - great grandchildren, Caleb Lyons, Kinsley and Waylynn Cole. She is preceded in death by her brother Coe Stone and sister Ellen Taylor.
She will always be remembered for her beauty, youthfulness and love of family.
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