Death of Dean Blaesi Cornwell, former missionary to the Democratic Republic of Congo

Death of Dean Blaesi Cornwell, former missionary to the Democratic Republic of Congo

August 14, 1928 – April 21, 2013

Global Ministries was saddened to learn of the death of Dean Cornwell, former missionary to the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Dean Cornwell was born in North Platte, Nebraska, August 14, 1928, to Bertha and Frank Cornwell, the first of four children, his siblings being a brother Wesley and sisters Carol and Phyllis.  He graduated from North Platte High School, then attended Phillips University, where he met his future wife, Sarah Lydia Weaver.  At Phillips they they began training for the mission field with the United Christian Missionary Society, a predecessor mission body of Global Ministries.  Dean received his Master of Divinity degree in 1955 and was ordained as a Minister of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).  He was a Timothy of the First Christian Church of North Platte.

After Phillips, Dean and Sarah spent a year at Yale School of Missions in Hartford, Connecticut, and then a year in Brussels, Belgium, studying the French language, in preparation to being missionaries in what today is the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  They were missionaries from 1957 to 1965, being stationed in Monieka, Congo, for additional language training; Coquilhatville (now Mbandaka) Congo, 1958 to 1960; one year home in the U.S. at North Platte, for furlough; then 1961 to 1964 in Bolenge, which is a mission station outside of Mbandaka.  After one year home in 1965 in the United States, during which time Dean did deputation work, Dean and Sarah decided to conclude their missionary service.

Dean was Pastor of Gardena First Christian Church from 1965 to 1972, when he decided to leave church work and enter business, eventually receiving a realtor’s license, at which he worked until he retired in 1994.

Dean’s work in the Congo continued 2005-2007, when he volunteered to establish a public relations office at the Protestant University of the Congo, in the capital city of Kinshasa.   The University was established in 1959 by five protestant missions, one of which was the Disciples of Christ church in the Congo.   In 2005, Dean answered a call for volunteers to the Congo.  As the University did not have funding for this new enterprise, Dean raised funds to furnish the office, hire staff, and purchase a car for the University’s use.  Among his accomplishments at the Protestant University are the new public relations office and the English Club, a place for Congolese students to meet and practice their English.  Dean was able to garner the support of the American Embassy in the Congo to help establish the English Club, as well as to fund a permanent location for  meetings and a small library, which will ensure its continued existence in the University.  Dean considered this work, accomplished in his late 70’s, to be the capstone of his professional life.

Dean Cornwell died on Sunday, April 21, 2013.  Dean and Sarah had five children: Steven Wayne, Susan Diane, Thomas Alan, Karen Leigh, and Wesley Paul.  Sarah died in 1997.  Dean is survived by three children:  Steven, Karen, and Wes, and his loving companion, Mary Jackson.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to one of the following charities:

  • The National Park Foundation, at   or,
  • Congo Pastor’s Pension Fund:  checks may be made payable to Global Ministries, and sent to Global Ministries, PO Box 1986, Indianapolis, IN  46206-1986.  Please indicate your gift is for the Congo Pastor’s Pension Fund, in memory of Dean Cornwell.

Condolences may be sent to:

  • Steve Cornwell at 2435 W. 227th Street, #7, Torrance, CA  90501
  • Karen Cornwell at 207 Whiting Street, Apt D, El Segundo, CA  90247
  • Wesley Cornwell at 11112 Brownstone Drive, Parker, CO  80138
  • Mary Jackson at 17 Harbor Sight Drive, Rolling Hills Estates, CA  90274