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Remembrance Church Audio Visual Department
4575 Remembrance Rd. NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49534
Life Story / Obituary
All who knew Corneil “Cornie” Paauwe would agree that he was the heartbeat of wherever he went. He truly understood the value of hard work, but he believed that life was for living! Nothing was better than sharing his amazing experiences with his loved ones, and he treasured his roles as a husband, father, and grandfather. Cornie selflessly gave to others, and his compassion and fun-loving spirit were easy to see. Life will never be the same without him here, but he leaves behind a timeless legacy that his loved ones will proudly carry on in his footsteps.
Born during the trying days of the Great Depression, there was great joy in the lives of Cornelius and Josephine (Buist) Paauwe as they announced the birth of the baby boy they named Corneil on June 18, 1935. He was the youngest of four and was raised in family homes on Spring Street, NE and Leffingwell, NE, alongside his siblings, Trudy, Doris, and Marilyn. His father worked at American Seating while his mother was a homemaker. In high school, he loved helping his father raise mink for trendy mink coats and capes. In the winter he liked sliding on the icy sidewalks. Their family attended Coldbrook CRC, and he attended Creston Christian School through 8th grade. Cornie then transferred to West Side for 9th grade for the one gap year before moving on to Christian High, graduating in 1953.
As a young man Cornie enlisted in the Army. Between basic training in Fort Smith, Arkansas, and having to report to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, he married Muriel VanHouten in 1955. Together they welcomed three children, Joan, Barbara, and Cory, into their hearts and home. Cornie worked hard, starting off working as a carpenter, but after returning from the service he began driving a truck for 7-Up Bottling, where he spent the rest of his career. Besides his family, Cornie loved having a boat, and some of the families best memories were made on summer vacations at a cottage rented on Burt Lake where there was plenty of swimming, boating, skiing, and fishing. Often trips were taken on the 21-foot Slickcraft up the inland waterway to Mackinac Island from Burt Lake. Cornie also made it possible for Joan and Barb to have horses, something both daughters love to this day. Cornie took them to shows, the Kent County fair, and even “up north” 4-H trail rides. Although his marriage to Muriel later ended in divorce, he was thankful for the children they shared.
On November 1, 1985, he married Diane Jelsma, and she had two children, Curt and Jodi. Sadly, Curt died in a motorcycle accident in 1986. Through the many changes in life, and as his family grew older, Cornie continued to work at 7-Up working his way up, becoming the vice president of advertising and sales, running the in-house ad agency. His job took him to many fun events and places including the “Cardboard Classic” races at Schuss Mountain. Because Cornie learned to ski right alongside his son, Cory thinks of those special times spent learning to ski with his father when he teaches his own children to ski. The Schuss Mountain “Ski Bash” became an annual event where generations continue to learn to ski, even this past year, because of Cornie. While working Cornie often received free tickets to Cedar Point, and for years, the family enjoyed a summer trip there, often bringing friends along. These job perks were some of the first ways the combined family came to know one another and make memories.
Cornie always enjoyed boating, and with Diane, they enjoyed several boats over the years, always named Ka Powee. In 1987, they made the move to keep their boat at Grand Isle Marina, and in doing so, expanded their circle of friends. They spent nearly every weekend there, including the annual mid-June birthday/Father’s Day boat party which included sun, fun, drinks, the annual boat ride, laughter, and many appetizers. Jodi and friends have a 30-year “girls weekend” tradition on the boat with Cornie as their captain, where no night was complete without a turtle sundae. Many of the children remember spending time watching the fireworks from the boat in downtown Grand Haven. Cornie and Diane were members of the Riviera Yacht Club from Spring Lake, and he was proud to serve as the Commodore from 1997 through 1998. Cornie’s lifelong love for fishing was something he passed on to his grandchildren as they had so much fun fishing from the dock in Grand Haven. He could catch Walleye when no one else could, and always would get his maximum amount of fish while ice fishing. For years he was a member of the West Michigan Walleye Club and also of the Steelheaders Association.
An avid U of M fan, he also loved sharing his love for U of M with his grandchildren. Cornie was always very vocal in his support when watching Michigan games, usually wearing his Michigan hat. It never really mattered what sport, he just loved cheering on his maize and blue. Cornie also loved attending his grandchildren’s sporting events, and they always knew he was there to watch when they heard, “Yo, yo, yo.” He and Diane loved to travel, and they went to Hawaii, Australia, Spain, German, and Mexico. In the fall of 1999, Cornie and Diane began his dream trip in the boat doing the “Great Loop” down the Chicago River to Florida and back home on the ocean. It was on that trip that they discovered Ft. Myers, Florida and the Sandcastle Beach Club. In the years that followed, Jodi and her family joined them at the Sandcastle Beach Club, making great friends and memories. On their winter road trips to Florida, they often stopped to visit Cory and his family. It was important to Cornie that he build relationships with Cory’s children, despite being separated by many miles. At home, Sunday dinners with Jodi and Joanie’s families were something Cornie looked forward to over the years.
Throughout his life Cornie was a man of many interests. He loved having a garden and growing his own vegetables including his infamous corn next to the pool. In fact, it has been said that he could eat a ridiculous amount of corn on the cob! Cornie also had an insatiable sweet tooth and loved his Frosted Flakes for breakfast as well as chocolate chip cookies and peanut M&Ms. Of course he loved fresh fish or his own smoked fish, and because of his job his fridge was always stocked with pop. Since 2000, Cornie and Diane were members of Remembrance Church. During his later years Cornie enjoyed his coffee time at Pop’s Restaurant, gathering with his buddies for the latest news.
With a life that spanned times of great change around him, Corneil “Cornie” Paauwe was a blessing in the lives of so many. He was social and outgoing with a warm smile ready for everyone. Cornie was deeply devoted to his family, and together with his family he experienced so many of the best things that life has to offer. Known for his love for fishing, his unwavering support of the University of Michigan, and the way he teased people all in the name of fun, he will be forever missed.
Paauwe – Corneil “Cornie” Paauwe aged 83, of Grand Rapids, passed away on March 10, 2019. He was preceded in death by his wife, Diane Paauwe. Cornie is survived by his children, Joan and Roy Visser, Barb and Oli Olafsson, Cory and Becky Paauwe and Jodi and Ron Alvesteffer; grandchildren, Brooke, Gerrit, Jake, Lyndsey, Alex, Agust, Bjargey, Olafur, Maddie, Evie, Callie, Lucas, Gabe, Curt, Noah and Hope; sister, Trudy VanSprange; 10 great-grandchildren; and many nieces and nephews. The Funeral Service will be held at 11AM on Monday, March 18, 2019 at Remembrance Church, 4575 Remembrance Rd. NW. His family will gather to share stories and memories from 2-4 and 6-8 PM on Sunday at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home, 2120 Lake Michigan Dr. NW and for one hour prior to the service at church. In lieu of flowers, contributions in his memory may be made to Remembrance Church Audio/Visual Department. Please visit www.lifestorynet.com to read Cornie’s lifestory, submit a memory, photo or to sign the guestbook online.