Steven Thompson Corneliussen of Virginia Beach, Va., a retired Navy captain, died July 19 at age 99. He was born July 12, 1918, in Story City and raised there during the years when his father, the late Fred C. Corneliussen, owned and ran the Lake Comar recreation park. In 1940 Steve graduated from St. Olaf College in Minnesota. In June of that year he began flight training. Before World War II he was retained as a flight instructor at Pensacola, Fla., and Corpus Christi, Texas.
During the war, he served as a scout-observation pilot aboard the seaplane-equipped cruiser USS Detroit and as a fighter pilot aboard the aircraft carrier USS Manila Bay in action against Japanese forces in the Pacific. After the war, he served as a fighter pilot and fighter squadron commander aboard the carriers USS Midway and USS Philippine Sea. His tours of duty during his career included service as operations officer, USS Valley Forge, and with headquarters staff, U.S. European Command, then based in Paris, France. He retired from active duty in 1965, relinquishing command of Navy air transport squadron VR-22 in Norfolk, Va.
He and his family found living in the Paris area a career highlight for him and a memorable experience for the entire family. After retiring from active duty, he served for several years on the field staff of the American Red Cross and as a Red Cross field director in Vietnam, in Thailand, and later in Bavaria, Germany, where he was accompanied by his wife and youngest child, Kristin. After returning to his home in Virginia Beach, he served for several more years as a volunteer with the Red Cross Regional Blood Center in Norfolk and with the American Cancer Society. He was a longtime member of Christ Lutheran Church in Norfolk where he was a past president of the congregation and served repeatedly as a deacon.
Well over a century ago, Steve’s grandfather, S. R. Corneliussen, built the Pioneer Store, still in use in Story City. Steve was preceded in death by his father and his mother, Sylvia Thompson Corneliussen, by his dear wife of nearly 62 years, Mary Schmidt Corneliussen of Davenport, and by his grandson Shawn David Brown. He is survived by his daughter, Mary Frances Corneliussen, of Rocky Hill, N.J., his son Steven T. Corneliussen of Poquoson (and his wife Sarah Walsh Corneliussen), daughter Nancy C. Brown of Virginia Beach, and daughter Kristin of Virginia Beach (and her husband Robert R. Swanbeck). He is also survived by four grandchildren: Mary Sylvia Corneliussen Gurganus (with husband David, two sons, and a daughter), Steven T. “Skip” Corneliussen (with wife Karen, two sons, and a daughter), Daniel C. Corneliussen, and Sarah Frances Corneliussen (with husband Kevin Bender).
A memorial service was held at Christ Lutheran Church. Inurnment will take place on a future day to be decided at Arlington National Cemetery, where Captain Corneliussen’s cremated remains will be interred with those of his wife Mary in the columbarium.