Irma Genevieve Cornelius
Irma Genevieve Cornelius
  • April 13, 1927 - July 29, 2017
  • Mesa, Arizona

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Irma Genevieve Cornelius (age 90) longtime resident of New Effington, South Dakota, died at her home in Mesa, AZ, of natural causes, on Saturday, July 29, 2017. She was born on April 13, 1927 at her family's farm near Sisseton, South Dakota. Irma was the daughter of Berger and Mae Olstad. She was raised in the Lutheran faith and attended the Scandia Lutheran Church until she was married to Eugene (Gene) Odell Cornelius in 1946. The wedding took place at the Zion Lutheran Church in New Effington. The newlyweds became members of the Zion Congregation and later the Faith Lutheran Church in New Effington. In 2007 they moved to Watertown, South Dakota, where they joined the Lutheran Church of Our Redeemer. They are presently members of Our Saviors Lutheran Church in Mesa, Arizona. Irma and Gene celebrated 71 years of marriage in 2017.
Irma grew up on a farm Southeast of New Effington and attended elementary school at Hart No. 3. She graduated from New Effington High School in 1945 and attended Northern State Teachers College in Aberdeen where she obtained her credentials to teach elementary school. She taught elementary school for three years. In the mid 1950's she worked as an agricultural census taker for the U. S. Census Bureau in Robert's County. Irma took a job as a clerk at the New Effington Post Office in 1956. She became the Postmaster in 1970. She held the distinction of being the first person in the United States to be appointed Postmaster under the newly established Career Service Law. She retired in June, 1989, with 33 years of service to the United States Postal Service.
During the years Irma was Postmaster she held various offices as a leader in the South Dakota Post Master's Association. She and Gene travelled extensively and attended over ten National Postmaster's Conventions throughout the United States during her tenure as Postmaster.
Since retirement Irma and Gene traveled throughout the United States and parts of Europe. During the winter months they spent time in Texas prior to purchasing a vacation home at Venture Out in Mesa AZ where they lived during the winter months each year. In 2012 they moved from Watertown, SD and made their permanent home at Sunland Village in Mesa. They moved to the Citadel Assisted Living Community in 2015. While living at the Venture Out Community, Irma served as the Volunteer Director of the Community Electronics Center overseeing the activities of the center and giving computer training to residents of the community.
In addition to her postal career Irma was an excellent homemaker and an outstanding seamstress. She was a community leader throughout her lifetime. She served as a leader for her children's activities and scouting organizations; was an NEHS band mother; sang in the church choir; taught Sunday School; and belonged to the Zion and Faith Ladies' Aide. She was a member and officer of the American Legion Auxiliary for 68 years. Irma was adored by her four children, eight grandchildren, and eleven great grandchildren.
Irma was preceded in death by her beloved daughter, Phyllis Ann, her parents, Berger and Mae Olstad, and her brother, Carmen Olstad. She is survived by her husband, Eugene; sister, Marlys, Naples, FL, daughter, Elaine Sternquist, Mesa, AZ., sons, Dennis (Pamela), Maple Grove, MN. and Douglas (Dawn) Apple Valley, MN Also surviving are her grandchildren and great grandchildren: Elaine's children Ann Wyly Gregory, Phoenix, AZ, and Cameron Wyly (Anna), Aberdeen, SD (James and Hunter Wyly, Spencer, Alyx, Zander, and Parker Hoffman); Dennis' children Christopher (Jennifer) Cornelius, Maple Grove, MN (Scott and Abbey) and Renae Kuehl (Ryan), St. Louis Park, MN (Austin and Avery) ; Doug's children, Amber Grochocinski (Geoffrey) Duluth, MN (Aurora) , Adam Gilbertson, Orlando, FL, Angela Brady (Chris) Eden Prairie, MN and Aaron Cornelius, Apple Valley, MN
Memorial services will be held at The Citadel Assisted Living Community at 520 S. Higley Road, Mesa, AZ. on Saturday, August 5 at 10:00 AM and at the Faith Lutheran Church in New Effington, SD in the early fall. Burial will be at the Scandia Lutheran Cemetery at rural New Effington following the memorial service. The family requests any memorial gifts be made to Faith Lutheran Church in New Effington, South Dakota 57255.