Donn Cornelia left this world the same way he lived his life. His way! Due to extreme stubborness, he was able to defeat death more times than a cat has lives. Every time we thought, THIS IS IT, he’d shock everyone, regain his health, and simply say “I’m just not done yet.”
The years shared with friends and family may have been short, but there was no lack of excitement in the way he lived his life. He lived! He loved! He enjoyed life! He laughed! A lot! Sometimes at the expense of others, due to his love of embarrassing anyone he could! No one ever got hurt and it was always out of fun. Playing jokes was his thing. Trust that his family and friends enjoyed returning the favor, like when they surprised him by entering him into a best butt contest. Donn was a good looking man and sharp dresser. His dance moves always received attention. He made friends everywhere he went, all over the world in fact. People were drawn to him. His personality was larger than life.
Donn came from very humble beginnings, a sheriff’s son, in small town Sidney, MT. He grew up with his five siblings, mom and dad. He was very close to his brothers and sisters. Going to the ranch to see his horse Cherokee always made his day. She was his favorite companion for many years. He lived his life playing by the rules until the age of 19. Realizing life is more enjoyable out of the box, he then pushed it to the limits for the remainder of his years.
Most people are shocked to know that his first occupation out of high school was in Washington D.C., working for the FBI. This position was shortly lived when he realized there was more bulls**t in government than life itself. His resignation letter consisted of a card with a man peeing on his work desk, when opened it stated I quit, signed Donn Cornelia. That card made it all the way to the head honcho of the FBI J. Edgar Hoover.
Still wanting to serve others, but in a different way. He found himself back in Montana, this time he would bless Billings with his presence, which became his forever home. Donn followed his passion for beauty and enrolled in Acme Beauty College. After graduation he started his career at Montgomery Ward (monkey wards, as he referred to it) he took his talents to many salons, Casa La Reina, Looking Good, Lowell’s, and owned Donn Michaels. In the world of cosmetology, Donn would be known as a superstar! He was and still is undoubtedly one of the best hairstylists born. He had the ability to see things others couldn’t and just enough crazy to pull it off!
Traveling to several places putting on hair shows as a guest artist for Wella, everyone knew when Donn had arrived. His room looked like a tornado ran through it. He competed and won several hair shows in his career, two of them being Global competitions – one in Sweden and one in New Orleans. He collected many trophies and medals due to his raw talent that flourished at all competitions. Donn’s work was featured and on display, in many different ways: magazines (American Salon) newspaper articles, radio, and several different fashion shows. Over the years Donn built a huge and loyal clientele, meaning that at times he stayed at the salon working through the night until 3 am to make sure he took care of them all. Usually with a ten high and coke in hand, a smoke, and the music cranked.
Donn was an intelligent man with a broad vocabulary, often being able to complete an entire crossword puzzle in just a few minutes. It’s ironic that most of the words spewed from his mouth consisted of only 4 letters and occasionally an inappropriate hand gesture! Donn enjoyed many things in life, including fishing, knitting, canning, cooking, baking, partying, decorating, drawing, and antique shopping, but dancing and gardening were his passion. Every year Donn would transform his yard into a garden full of beautiful flowers, greenery, and all types of vegetables. People would come from all over the town to admire his work. Donn danced his entire life and often greeted people by saying “wanna dance?”
Thankful to the two women who would change Donn’s life forever by blessing him with fatherhood: Dee whom he shared 2 children with, a son and daughter, and Catherine whom he shared a daughter with. Donn felt his greatest accomplishment in life was being a father. His kids and grandkids made him so proud. He never tired of singing their praises or saying, “I am so proud of you!” Donn will be forever loved and missed dearly. Those who knew him never forgot him. His smile unforgettable, his love undeniable!
Donn was preceded in death by his son Michael; his sister Kathy Dotson; and parents June and Web Cornelia.
Donn is survived by his daughters: Michelle Jundt (Loye) and Tedra Cornelia (George); siblings: Jerry Cornelia, Gary Cornelia (Derick) Darrel Cornelia, Sharon Shackleford; grandchildren Zach, Laken, Lyric, Phoenix, Ryly, and Halo; many nieces, nephews, great nieces and great nephews: Becky Yonts (Kris), Glenn, Leeana, Landon, Laraya, Josh and Michelle. Michael, Rhiannon, Seth, Ethan, Abbey, and Owen; his amazing circle of friends (you know who you are!); his favorite side kick Mark Smith.
He would like to leave everyone with some words of wisdom:
- Be nice!
- Dance your a** off!
- Never fry bacon in the nude!
Special thanks to Rivertone Hospice House for the use of your hall! Thank you to each and every one of you that gave him your time, patience, and love. In the words of Donn Cornelia, you are all angels!
Memorial service will take place 2:00 pm November 18, 2017 at Heights Family Funeral Home. 733 W Wicks Lane. A potluck and Celebration of Life will take place after the memorial service at CHURCH! (THE MONTE CARLO) 2824 1st Ave N.
In Lieu of flowers please make donations to St. Vincent DePaul.
Cards may be sent to:
C/O Tedra Cornelia
1116 Grand Ave Ste. 102
Billings, Mt. 59102