Michael Cornwell, 87: Protected Windsor Square

| December 2, 2021 | 0 Comments

Longtime board member and president of the Windsor Square Association, Michael A. Cornwell, died in Pasadena on Oct. 18. He was 87. Cornwell worked at the Truman Van Dyke Company, Speare & Company and Disc Insurance, providing coverage for film and television productions, documentaries and commercials. He also was a member of the U.S. Army Reserve, retiring with the rank of colonel.

MICHAEL CORNWELL receives the Windsor Square Association’s 2009 Squeaky Wheel Award, along with two other former WSA presidents, Jane Usher (left) and Carolyn Ramsay.

Historic preservation
Cornwell was born — and grew up — in Los Angeles, attending Hamilton High School and UCLA. Concerned with architectural and cultural preservation in his city, he was appointed, in the early 2000s, to serve on the City of Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Commission, and he later was elected the commission’s president. He also served as chairman of The Committee for Simon Rodia’s Towers in Watts, and he was a member of the Los Angeles Conservancy and Pasadena Heritage.

For decades, he and his wife, Diane, resided on Norton Avenue in Windsor Square, and they later moved to Pasadena. Diane died in April 2020.

As described by daughter Molly, in an obituary notice posted for her father, “Everyone who knew him well would probably describe Mike as a ‘character.’ He was fun, with a dry sense of humor and a winning smile. He was always quick to give a compliment and set people at ease. He was exceptionally polite, always holding doors open for folks, even until his last days riding the elevator at Villa Gardens in Pasadena.”

Park Mile Specific Plan
This writer knew Mike well. He never failed to accept the mantle of leadership in defending the historic Windsor Square community where he lived. In addition to his service on the board of the Windsor Square Association, especially as president for many years, Cornwell also stood up for the community in 1983, as president of Rapid Transit Advocates, Inc. That nonprofit organization challenged the sufficiency of the Southern California Rapid Transit District’s 1983 environmental impact report analyzing the consistency of its subway construction plans with applicable General Plans of the County of Los Angeles and the City of Los Angeles.

Cornwell’s efforts were a primary reason why the adopted Park Mile Specific Plan continues to protect the historic character of the residential neighborhoods north and south of Wilshire Boulevard between Wilton Place and Highland Avenue.

Diane and Mike loved to travel. Mike also loved to garden. He spent hours in his deep back yard on Norton Avenue, planting and pruning to create a place of beauty and refuge for himself, his family and friends. In addition to being preceded in death by Diane, Mike also outlived his parents, his sister, and his and Diane’s daughter Amy. He is survived by daughter Molly and his granddaughter Miranda, as well as by his nephews John and Robert Moore.

Anyone who would like to donate in Cornwell’s memory may do so either to Union Station Homeless Services in Pasadena or the League to Save Lake Tahoe in South Lake Tahoe, California. A service at All Saints Church in Pasadena is pending.

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Category: People

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