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Community recognizes beloved businessman’s contributions


October 17, 2018

By Marlana Ward
Freelance Writer

At the recent meeting of mayor and aldermen, October 2, 2018, was named Karl William Cornett Memorial Day. A large number of Cornett’s family and friends were in attendance to witness a proclamation presented to Edith Cornett in commemoration of the day. Karl was a native of Johnson County with his family has been in the area for over 200 years. As a young man, he helped his father build homes and later worked in Maryland at a factory manufacturing supplies for the US Army before he himself was drafted. He served in World War II achieving the rank of Sergeant.

Karl and Edith began their story together when a friend told Edith of a handsome, young man who lived on a farm just two miles away from her family’s farm. “Before we met, a mutual friend told me how handsome he was,” Edith remembered. “I was anxious to see for myself. My cousin and I went to a church meeting knowing he would be there. He and his friend walked us home, and the rest is history.”

After marriage, Karl and his brother-in-law began working in agriculture. “Karl and my brother raised beans,” Edith shared. “Bean sales went down, so we needed a better source of income.”

It was this situation that led Karl to pursue the business that he would come to be known for in the Mountain City community. “Karl and his dad ventured into the used furniture business.” The company started by Karl and his parents in 1949 became the Cornett Furniture Store that he and Edith operated for 69 years. The store became a fixture on Main Street in Mountain City and offered the couple the chance to make lasting friendships with town residents and visitors alike. “Through the years, customers and salesmen coming in seemed like family,” Edith explained. “We met strangers who were so nice we felt like we had known them forever.”

Throughout their marriage, Karl and Edith welcomed three children. Joyce, Judy, and Aaron added to the warm and loving home that the couple had started in 1947. “We tried to take care of the children, raise them up right, send them to school to get a good education, and teach them to be good citizens,” said Edith. “We hoped they would choose to live, work, and raise their family in Johnson County.”

As the years passed, the couple found many interests and adventures to enjoy together. “We enjoyed traveling, mountain climbing, fishing, going on picnics, and golfing,” Edith shared.

In 1999, the couple took the opportunity to spend winters in warmer weather when they were able to buy a house in Florida. While there the couple continued their tradition of making friends wherever they went. “We bought a house on a golf course so Karl could golf while there. He had some good golfing buddies who came from colder areas.”

The couple was best known for their work together as a team and Edith shared how that teamwork went beyond their furniture business and to their home: “We both liked to keep busy. When we got home in summer, Karl would mow with the riding mower, and I would mow with the push mower. Karl would hit the high places, and I liked to mow close, but he mowed much more than I did.”

While Karl passed away on August 17, 2018, his wife, children, grandchildren, and even great-grandchildren continue to cherish the memories they made together as Edith expressed, “Our best memories are working together, getting along as a family for seventy-one years and enjoying every minute of it.”