Obituary: William E. Cornelius, emeritus trustee and alumnus, 82​


William E. Cornelius, emeritus trustee and alumnus of Washington University in St. Louis, died Wednesday, Aug. 6, 2014, at his home in Huntleigh, Mo. He was 82.

Cornelius, the former president and CEO of Union Electric Co. (now Ameren Corp.), was an active member of WUSTL’s Board of Trustees for more than 20 years. He was first elected to the board in 1984 and served almost consecutively until 2007.

Over those years, he served on the Medical Finance Committee, Hilltop Finance Committee, Honorary Degree Committee, Executive Committee, Development Committee, Undergraduate Experience Committee and Educational Policy Committee.

When University College in Arts & Sciences started a master’s degree program in liberal arts in the early 1980s, Cornelius was president of Union Electric Co. and deeply involved in the St. Louis community.

Despite his many professional and civic commitments, he found the new master’s program irresistible and was in the program’s first graduating class in 1983. He wrote his thesis on nuclear weapons and then taught an evening course on the subject for several years.

“Bill loved his time as a student there, and his life was enriched by the experience of having challenging courses and exposure to outstanding professors and teachers,” said his wife, Ginger Cornelius.

“He made life-long friends at Washington University,” she said, “and he felt privileged to teach night classes in University College, and later to serve as a trustee under Bill Danforth and Mark Wrighton. How lucky can a man be!”

He received a Distinguished Alumni Award from Arts & Sciences in 2003.

Cornelius, who joined Union Electric in 1962, retired in 1994 and served as an Ameren board member. With his wife, he supported scholarships in Arts & Sciences and in the Brown School.

A memorial service is planned for 10 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 16, at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, 110 N. Warson Road, Ladue, Mo., 63124.