Kenneth L. Cornelius passed away on March 28, 2022, at Logan Health in Kalispell, Montana after sustaining serious injury from a bicycle accident. He was surrounded by the love of his wife and children.
Ken was born in Ronan, Montana on November 5, 1960, to Lawrence and Lorraine (Salomon) Cornelius as the fifth and youngest child in the family. He grew up on his father’s dairy farm in Round Butte and graduated from Ronan High School in 1979. He began college at Montana State University but returned to Ronan to eventually to run Cornelius Cattle Co. He sold the dairy herd in 1998 and continued to farm the land until 2019. He ran the farm as efficiently as possible and loved being outside with the view of the Mission Mountains.
He married his high school sweetheart Renae Sampson on September 8, 1984, at Sacred Heart Catholic Church. He was a devoted husband and father to their two daughters Brooke and Lindsey and enjoyed many family adventures together.
Ken loved being in the outdoors, especially in the Mission Mountain Range. He climbed nearly every peak and even backcountry skied as time allowed. His friends and family joined him as he enjoyed hiking, skiing, kayaking, bicycling, fishing, rafting, hunting, photography, and taught anyone willing those skills to have their own adventures. He was nick-named “Yukon Cornelius,” and it was well known that he wouldn’t slow down for anyone, so plan accordingly. He would share his routes with anyone who dared, and sometimes the instructions included going off trail where, “The turn is here in the brush, and you just have to know.'' He loved Grey Wolf Peak, Piper Lake, Lucifer Lake, and a certain spot where you must crawl on your belly through a hole rimmed with mountain goat hair as those creatures do the same. He was known to summit the tallest peaks and call his friends when cell phone reception allowed just to say, “Hello, down there!''
Ken got a natural high from helping his fellow adventurers to push their own limits and accomplish what they didn’t perceive as possible. He volunteered for Lake County Search and Rescue for years and would drop everything to help when the call came in. One skill he taught was how to repel off the granaries on the farm. He would put Brooke and Lindsey in the harnesses, telling them that he trusted their skills enough to bring his own daughters down. He continued his adventures with his treasured grandchildren who carry on some of his traits including hiking off-trail, bicycling, and skiing through the trees.
Ken was preceded in death by his parents, Lawrence and Lorraine Cornelius. He is survived by his wife Renae and the families of his daughters; Brooke and Jerry Nahring with children Luke and Elaina, and Lindsey and Sage Dorrington with their children Rosalind, Eloise, Genevieve, and James. He is also survived by his four siblings: Carlene (Gene) Vey, Diana Cornelius, Kathy Cornelius, Bill (Marla) Cornelius, as well as numerous nieces, nephews, and cousins.
The family extends deep gratitude to his loyal friends who immediately helped Ken after his accident, as well as those who sent their love and prayers during our time of need. Their skill and care allowed him to have his last wishes granted and to say goodbye to his family.
Funeral services for Ken will be held on Saturday, April 2, 2022, at 10:00 am at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Polson with burial to follow at the Ronan Cemetery. A prayer vigil will be held on Friday, April 1st at 6:00 pm at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Ronan.
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