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Earl Robert Cornwell, Jr.

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“Miss your stories, what a great friend! ”
1 of 5 | Posted by: Harper Ray Tafolla - Austin,, TX

“What a wonderful life he had! I'm doing research for a series of articles on the postwar careers of several AAF Band members and came across this...Read More »
2 of 5 | Posted by: Jeff - Glenn Miller Fan

“What a wonderful story of Earl's life. I am a friend and fellow music lover from the Wednesday Morning Music Club. He was a talented and dear man....Read More »
3 of 5 | Posted by: Katharine Shields - Austin, TX

“Thank you for filling in more details about Earl's interesting life. I knew him as a violinist and member of the Wednesday Morning Music Club. He...Read More »
4 of 5 | Posted by: Barbara Buttrey - Austin, TX

“Uncle Sonny, I will miss you and always love you. Cindy ”
5 of 5 | Posted by: Cindy Cornwell Fadal - Austin, TX


Earl Robert Cornwell, Jr. Earl was born in Austin, Texas on September 19, 1913 and died on April 22, 2006 at the age of 92. His parents were Julia and Earl Cornwell of 807 Rio Grande Street. He attended Pease Elementary and Austin High School. He had one younger brother, Allie (Ed)ward Cornwell and a younger sister, Kitty Cornwell Howard. He joined First United Methodist Church at the age of 9 and has remained a member. Growing up in Austin, Earl took up the violin at age 10. Playing the violin became Earl’s passion. Becoming a very gifted classical violinist, Earl was known to be one of the finest musicians to ever come out of Austin. In the Summer of 1929 at the age of 14, Earl was chosen by Harold Dybwad, music director at S.F. Austin High School, to go to the music camp at Interlochen, Michigan – in the second year of its existence. It was during this time that Earl set his sites on eventually moving to New York to pursue his career in music. He was graduated from S.F. Austin High School in 1931, and he went immediately to the University of Texas. He used to play for his meals at the University Commons. He also played with the 10 or 12 piece Ben Young Orchestra. The University did not have a music department at this time. Earl took time out in 1934 to play with Clarence Nemir groups aboard luxury liners on European trips. He moved to California in the summer of 1935. He moved to New York in the Fall of 1936 doing radio and studio work both in California and New York. In New York he studied privately and also at Greenwich House Music School. Earl returned to Austin and enlisted in the Army during WWII and was stationed at Sheppard Field in Wichita Falls. While there he teamed up with Ernest Kardos, formerly a violinist with the renowned Cleveland Symphony, to form the “Sheppard Field Strings.” They were regularly broadcast over the radio, and in 1942 one of those programs was heard by the legendary bandleader, Glenn Miller. Captain Glenn Miller was searching the country looking for musicians to form the Glenn Miller Air Force Band. This band was designated to entertain fighting troops and improve army morale. Captain Miller chose Earl and Ernest Kardos to join the orchestra arranging for their transfers to New Haven, Connecticut and adding strings to the band for the first time. In the months that followed, the band was broadcast nationwide on Saturday nights from New York City. In 1943 the orchestra was sent to England. When Queen Elizabeth, wife of King George VI, visited Miller’s men in Bedford, England, Earl was chosen to escort the Queen Mother from her car to the performance. In 1944, Earl was with the band in Paris when Glenn Miller’s plane disappeared. Before the war ended, The Glenn Miller Army Air Corp Band played more than 800 performances for the troops – 500 of which were broadcast to millions of listeners. After Glenn Miller’s disappearance, Earl played in the Tex Beneke Band from coast to coast. He toured with Stan Kenton in 1950 and 1951. He returned to Austin and played with The Austin Symphony for 27 years and with The Congregational Church of Austin for 40 years. He was a long time member of The Music Club. During this time he worked for Austin National Bank, he ran a newsstand and tobacco shop downtown, and managed the Congress Avenue Booksellers’ store on Congress. He retired from playing his violin at the age of 70 in 1983. Earl and our family would like to express a world of gratitude to Jesus (Jesse) Lopez for his longtime friendship and care of our uncle. He has known Earl since the 1960’s when he as a young man worked with Earl at the newsstand and tobacco shop. He has faithfully arrived at Earl’s apartment at 3:45 a.m., 7 days a week for many years to assist Earl by helping him with his personal care, preparing his breakfast and meals, and caring for his home. No amount of words can express the gratitude we feel to Jesse. Never was there such devotion and reliability as this man had demonstrated. He truly is an example of the Servant’s Heart. Thank you, Jesse, from all of our hearts. Earl was preceded in death by his brother, Ed Cornwell, age 86, and is survived by Ed’s wife, Alice Ann Cornwell and family of Austin; his nephew, Tom Cornwell, Jo Josie and Andrew of Austin; niece, Cindy Cornwell Fadal, Dana, Diana, and Hannah of Dripping Springs and Waco, his sister, Kitty Cornwell Howard, age 89, of Orem, Utah; nephew, Mike Howard, Sharon and family; nephew, Bill Howard, Jr., Penny and family of San Clemente, California; and cousin, Nancy Crow York and family of Austin. Memorial contributions in Earl’s memory may be made to the charity of your choice.