‘Dementia is a brutal thief’

Sandra ClarkObits

The mother of veteran Knoxville journalist Maria M. Cornelius has died.

Maria said her mother was a frequent visitor to Knoxville and loved to hike in the Smoky Mountains and Big South Fork. “She also enjoyed long walks to see the city and visiting bookstores and art places. Dementia is a brutal thief.”

Rosalie Cornelius (January 27, 1941-April 24, 2024) died peacefully at Forest Hills of DC from dementia at the age of 83. Originally from Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Rosalie had lived in Washington, D.C., since 1978 and spent her career as a devoted and kind nurse.

She was preceded in death by parents James and Margaret Cornelius, sisters LuAnn Cornelius Morris and Molly Cornelius Haigh, niece Brenda Morris and beloved cats Whitey and Honey Bunny.

Rosalie is survived by her three children, James Cornelius (wife Bobbie Cornelius) of South Carolina, Maria Cornelius of Tennessee and Victoria Espinel (husband John Stubbs) of Washington, D.C.; grandchildren Carter Cornelius, Tatum Cornelius, Joaquin Stubbs and Javier Stubbs; nieces Donna Lu Dickert, Margaret Haigh Sebens and Katherine Arends and nephew Charles T. Haigh.

She earned a  degree in early childhood education from Trinity Washington University. Rosalie loved theater, books, ballet, movies, horses, cats, good restaurants, taking photographs and writing children’s stories. She was devoted to her grandchildren and often took them on outdoor and indoor adventures to parks and museums. A memorial service will be held Sunday, May 12, at 2 p.m. at Grace Episcopal Church, 1041 Wisconsin Ave., NW in Washington, D.C.

Rosalie was a strong believer in animal rights and a supporter of animal welfare, and she especially loved stray cats. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in memory of Rosalie Cornelius to Young-Williams Animal Center, 3201 Division St., Knoxville, TN 37919 or online at young-williams.org/temporary-donation, which has a place to write a note on payment page.

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