Erminia Cornell

Obituary of Erminia Brancati Cornell

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Dateline: Niskayuna

It is with sad hearts that the family of Erminia Brancati Cornell announces her passing on September 20, 2021 at Our Lady of Mercy Life Center as she neared her 101st birthday.  And it is with joyful hearts that we celebrate her life well lived.  Erminia was born in Agerola, Italy on October 10, 1920, the daughter of Michelina and Ercole Brancati.


She came to the United States when she was 7 years old and became a naturalized citizen and she was very proud of her American citizenship and taught her children to be proud as well.  She graduated with honors from NYC schools.  She began a career as a seamstress making high fashion ladies clothing and it was then that she met her future husband.  Erminia married Peter J. Cornell and continued to work while he finished dental school and officer training in the United States Navy.  


She was always a presence at school events as a home room mother multiple times and president of the first parents’ association at Notre Dame High School, all while being active in the Schenectady Dental Auxiliary.  Her greatest joy centered on her home and family.  She could make anything grow and plants that bloomed for no one else, bloomed for her.  However, it was in the kitchen that she ruled supreme.  A wonderful cook and baker, everyone knew there would always be something good to eat at Min's house.  One only had to open the door of the refrigerator and smile in appreciation of the magic she created.  As the years went by her new joy centered around her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.  She took them under her wing and soon had them in the kitchen with her while she passed on cooking skills.  But perhaps her greatest gift was the unconditional love she bestowed on her family that in her mind could do no wrong.


She was predeceased by her husband of 59 years, Dr. Peter J. Cornell.  But still here to celebrate her life are her children Linda (Dan) Gestwick, Peter (Nancy) Cornell of Schenectady and Patricia (Geoff) Holmes of Naples, Florida; her grandchildren Daniel (Michele) Gestwick, Michael (Becky) Gestwick, Peter (Marina) Cornell and Christina Cornell, her step grandsons, Daniel, Andrew and Matthew Haber.  She is also survived by seven great-grandchildren Sage and Campbell Gestwick; Katerina, Alexandria and Juliana Cornell; and Steven and Nicholas Davis all of whom always brought a smile to her face.


The last years of her life were spent at Our Lady of Mercy where she would frequently banter with her caregivers.  Our family extends its warmest appreciation to all the staff, particularly those in the Fatima wing, that took care of Min on a daily basis.


A private funeral service was held for family. Remembrances in her name may be made to the Alzheimer’s Association, 4 Pine West Plaza Suite 405, Albany, NY 12205. Online condolences

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