American Veteran 01

John "Jack" David Cornell, Sr.

June 10, 1936 ~ July 15, 2020 (age 84)


SARATOGA SPRING - John David Cornell, Sr., Aka: Master Chief Engineman (Submarines), peacefully passed away on July 15, 2020 at his home after a courageous battle with Pancreatic Cancer. His wife Celeste, children, and grandchildren were at his side. 

Jack was born June 10, 1936, the son of the late Irving Edward Cornell and Florence Mae Kreuscher Cornell. John was a graduate of Oceanside High School, Long Island, NY, class of 1954.  Following graduation John served his country with pride in the United States Navy for 34 years prior to retiring in 1989.

Jack would joke: One job, One wife, One life…

During his military career Jack had several assignments; Bootcamp, Bainbridge, MD Jan. 1955 – Mar. 1955, Naval Submarine School, New London, CT Mar. 1955 – June 1955, USS Sea Robin (SSS-407), New London, CT June 1955 – Jan. 1959, Civilian Jan. 1959 – Nov. 1960, Prisoner Chaser, Brooklyn Naval Shipyard Nov. 1960 – Jan. 1961, Naval Nuclear Power School, New London, CT Jan. 1961 – June 1961, SIC Prototype, NPTU, Windsor Locks, CT June 1961 – Mar. 1962, USS Pollack (SSN 603), New Construction, N.Y. Shipbuilding, Camden, NJ March 1962 – Dec. 1964, Civilian Dec. 1964 – Feb. 1965, USS Thomas A. Edison (SSBN 610), New London, CT Advanced to CPO Feb. 1965 – Oct. 1971, S3G Prototype, NPTU, Ballston Spa, NY Advanced SCPO Oct. 1971 – Aug. 1975, USS Archerfish (SSN 678), New London, CT Advanced to MCPO Aug. 1975 – Aug. 1977, S7G Prototype, NPTU, Ballston Spa, NY Aug. 1977 – Aug. 1981, USS Philadelphia (SSN 690), New London, CT Aug. 1981 – Apr. 1983, S8G Prototype, NPTU, Ballston Spa, NY Apr. 1983 – June 1989.  While he was in the service, he had many achievements such as the Enlisted Submarine Insignia, Navy Commendation Medal with one Gold Star, Navy Achievement Medal, Meritorious Unit Commendation, Good Conduct Medal with one Silver and one Bronze Star, National Defense Service Medal, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon, SSBN Deterrent Patrol Insignia with two Silver Stars and three Gold Stars, and Command Master Chief Badge throughout his 34 years of service. 

Jack began his career on a WWII diesel submarine, the USS Sea Robin. A few years later, Nuclear power propulsion was developed, and he was on the pioneering edge of the modern United States Navy. His career took him around the world, from under the Polar Ice to south across the equator. He often commented that La Maddalena, Italy, was his favorite stop. 

Jack was always full of adventure. “When and where? Bags are packed," was his motto. He rode a donkey to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, hiked to the top of Mt. Vesuvius, and went skydiving at 50 years old. He loved fishing from the time he was a young boy and went everywhere from the Florida Keys with his brother, Stephen, to Montana, and to Montauk. Jack rarely missed a day at the Saratoga Racetrack and in 2016 he achieved one of his biggest dreams of becoming a part owner of a racehorse. Last summer, Jack watched the horse win at Saratoga and had the pleasure of joining him in the Winners' Circle. 

Among his many trips around the world, Jack’s greatest accomplishment was marrying the love of his life, Celeste, who he met through her four children on the Isle of Palms while stationed in Charleston, South Carolina. It was a classic love story between a yankee and a southern-bell. He had the privilege of raising her children and had a son with Celeste shortly after they married. Last year, Jack was overjoyed to be celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary. 

Over his 84 years of life, Jack left a lasting impression on everyone he met. From his children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, many young sailors, peers, friends, handicappers, and bartenders. It is certain that he will be admired and adored for years to come. He was a man's man: full of integrity and honor, a love for his country, and proud to be a sailor. 

John is survived by his beloved wife Celeste Cornell; children, Cindy Sweeney and husband Steve, Michelle Jacomo and husband Ray, Marlene Alfonso, Michael Murphy and wife Nikki, David Cornell; grandchildren, Osmel Alfonso, Rachel Jacomo, Raymond (Ray-Ray) Jacomo, Kelsea Smith, Adrian Alfonso, TJ Delaney, Kaleigh Sweeney, John Jacomo, Celestine Alfonso, Hannah Murphy, Nicole Cornell, Sydney Murphy, Chloe Murphy; great grandchildren, Christian Austin, Alexis Austin, Jaxon Harris, Jamis Harris, Silas Smith, Sawyer Smith; siblings, Stephen Cornell, Sherrie Anderson, Robin Burt and many friends who will miss him dearly. 

John is predeceased by his loving parents, Florence and Irving; his beloved grandson, Korey Harris, and a very special niece, Lisa Cartier, whom he always referred to as his first grandchild.

A mass service will be held at 12:30 pm on Monday, July 20, 2020 at St. Clement’s Church, 231 Lake Ave, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866 with Father Juanito Asprec officiating.

Family and friends may call from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm on Sunday, July 19, 2020 at Compassionate Funeral Care, 402 Maple Ave. (Rte 9 and/or Marion Ave.), Saratoga Springs, NY.

Interment with military honors will be held at 2:30 pm on Monday, July 20, 2020, at Gerald B.H. Solomon Saratoga National Cemetery, 200 Duell Road, Schuylerville, NY 12871.

In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to the National Pancreatic Cancer Foundation.

A loving thank you to his daughter Marlene whom spent countless hours at his bedside during the final weeks.

The family would like to extend a special thank you to the Hospice of Saratoga County, Compassionate Funeral Care, Sub Veterans of Ballston Spa and Saratoga National Cemetery Schuylerville, NY.


To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of John "Jack" David Cornell, Sr., please visit our floral store.


July 19, 2020

5:00 PM to 7:00 PM
Compassionate Funeral Care
402 Maple Avenue
Saratoga Springs, NY 12866

Mass Service
July 20, 2020

12:30 PM
St. Clements Roman Catholic Church
231 Lake Ave
Saratoga Springs, NY 12866

Interment with Military Honors
July 20, 2020

2:30 PM
Gerald B.H. Solomon Saratoga National Cemetery
200 Duell Road
Schuylerville, NY 12871

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