MILFORD – Howard “Howdy” I. Cornish, 92, a World War II veteran and last of the original Milford Macs, passed away peacefully on Tuesday April 2, 2019, at Fox Nursing Home, Oneonta.
Born Nov. 2, 1926, at the Thanksgiving Hospital in Cooperstown, Howard was the son of Horace P. and Leta (Persons) Cornish.
He graduated from Milford High School, Class of 1945. Immediately after graduation, Howard enlisted in the Army and, following basic training, was assigned to the 778th Tank Battalion. Howard was dedicated to his country and proud of his service and that of his fellow comrades in arms.
Howdy was honorably discharged in 1947 and awarded the World War II Victory Medal and the Army of Occupation Medal, and returned to Milford.
He married Mary Ryder on Oct. 20, 1951, and they shared 49 years together before her death on Oct. 6, 2000.
Howdy was never one to sit idly. As a young man he worked at the pineapple cheese plant. Later, he worked at the Armstrong Lumber Mill on Division Street in Milford.
He then began his career as a delivery truck driver and over many years worked for Milford area employers such as S.S. Harrison & Son and the Oneonta Grocery Co. He delivered food, feed, coal and groceries to literally thousands of customers over a four-county area. He was well liked, well-known and became an appreciated “friend” in his customers’ stores.
An accomplished athlete himself, Howdy loved sports of all kinds. He helped build the Milford bowling lanes and thereafter bowled in the Wednesday night Community League from its opening in 1956 until 2010.
He was an avid New York Yankees fan. In his earlier years he listened to the games on the radio, faithfully completing a score card so he could follow and appreciate the game. It is fair to say that the Yankees are now playing without the earthly support of one of their biggest fans.
At his death Howdy was the last of the original Milford Macs, having played for the team for more than years. His passing leaves only Charlie Jorgensen, the bat boy from that storied team, surviving.
Howdy was an active member of the Milford Fire Department and was made a life member after 53 continuous years of service. He was also a proud member of the Milford American Legion and VFW Post 1566
In his spare time, he loved to polka, square dance and play poker and pitch. He will be missed by many!
Howard is survived by his children, Carol (Larry) Kessler, Janice Eichler, Kathy Yager (Ken Dautrich) and Brian Cornish (Maria Carr). Howard is also survived by seven grandchildren, Timothy Kessler, Becky Ashe, Nathan Kessler, Gary, Graig and Garth Eichler and Holly Doty and their families. He is also survived by 15 great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren.
Also surviving are two sisters, Jeri (Robert) Houlihan and JoAnn Vass. Howdy leaves two sisters-in-law, Betty Cornish and Phyllis Mead; as well as several nieces, nephews and cousins.
Howdy was predeceased by his wife, Mary; sisters, Jean, Esther, Verna and Joyce; brother, Bernard; son-in-law, David Yager; and brother-in-law, Gerald Mead.
The family extends special thanks to the staff of Unit 2 at Fox Nursing Home.
Calling hours will be 4-7 p.m., Friday April 5, at the Tillapaugh Funeral Home, 28 Pioneer St., Cooperstown. Funeral services will be at 11 am., Saturday April 6, also at the funeral home, with Stephen Fournier, pastor of the Milford Center Community Bible Church, officiating.
A reception will be held at the Milford Fire Hall immediately following the service.
Burial in the Milford Cemetery with full military honors will be at 11 a.m., Saturday May 4.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests that those who so desire make contributions in Howdy’s memory to the Milford Fire Department, Company No. 1, P.O. Box 359, Milford, NY 13807.