Lila Laurel Evans Cornell

CornellLila Laurel Evans Cornell, 97, on February 17, 2021, at Sherwood Oaks, a retirement community in Cranberry Township, Pa., where she had lived for more than 30 years. Lila was born on February 11, 1924, in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, to Morris and Golda (Loy) Evans. She grew up on a series of tenant farms in northern Ohio. She and her parents moved to Cleveland in 1943. There she met Elliott Clissold Cornell Jr., a mechanical engineer. They married in 1945.

Lila was always a deeply spiritual person, a spirituality which also took the form of political activity. After becoming involved in civil rights activities and a period of searching, Lila and Elliott joined Cleveland Heights (Ohio) Meeting in about 1955. Their children enjoyed a childhood filled with Quaker activities, including visiting plain dress Friends near Barnesville, Ohio; attending Lake Erie Yearly Meeting and Green Pastures Quarterly Meeting; camping at Friends Lake near Ann Arbor and at Camp NeeKauNis in Ontario; and participating in Friends Committee for National Legislation Annual Meetings in Washington, D.C. They attended a host of political protests for civil rights, for disarmament, and for peace.

The disjunctions of the Vietnam War led Elliott and Lila to leave their dream house in the conservative suburb of Brecksville, Ohio, to move to a more politically compatible neighborhood in Cleveland Heights, Ohio. Elliott and Lila founded Cleveland Community Meeting, which had a close connection with American Friends Service Committee. Later, Lila and Elliott founded Cleveland Friends School, an alternative school that was a refuge for radical teenagers, including their own, who foundered in their conservative high schools. In addition, their son Dean attended Olney Friends School; David attended Pickering College in Newmarket, Ontario, and Wilmington College; and daughter Laurel graduated from Friends World College (now LIU Global College).

Following moves, Lila and Elliott attended Fox Valley Meeting in Wisconsin and Media Meeting near Philadelphia.

During this time Lila worked at the architectural firm of Max Ratner, a civil liberties activist. Lila spent the last ten years of her working life in Philadelphia, employed as an executive assistant first at Friends General Conference and then at Philadelphia Yearly Meeting. In the 1980s, they moved to Pittsburgh. Elliott died in 1990.

At Sherwood Oaks, Lila met Richard K. Baker, a retired Presbyterian minister. They married in 2004 at Pittsburgh (Pa.) Meeting. They enjoyed 12 blissful years of life together until Dick died in 2016.

Lila avidly followed liberal politics, expressing her views with vehemence. She was an enthusiastic gardener, planting many trees at every place she lived. Lila was very well-organized; never nostalgic; and loved reading, modern design, eating Indian food, and wearing the colors purple and magenta.

Lila is survived by her three children, Laurel (William White), David, and Dean; her former son-in-law James Jay Morgan (Mary King); her stepchildren, Holly Rassnick (Neal) and Kent Baker (Mimi); and by one grandson.

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