Roger C. Kornbau, age 95 of Naples, passed away at Thompson Hospital in Canandaigua on Sunday, March 21, 2021.
Roger is survived by his daughters: Karen Kornbau of Taos, New Mexico & Heidi Bertin of Quimper, France; 3 grandchildren, 1 great-granddaughter; a sister, Linda M. (Tom) Sargent of Rochester, NY and a brother, C. Joseph Kornbau of California; nieces, nephews and special thanks to niece and nephew: Paula Hoffman & Dan Richardson of Johnstown, NY.
In addition to his parents, Roger is also predeceased by his brothers: Floyd Kornbau and Peter Kern & Richard Richardson.
Roger C. Kornbau was a child of the Great Depression which colored and shaped his life. He never forgot the hard lessons he learned coping with the life lessons he learned growing up on a farm in Conesus. As desperate a life he portrayed, he nevertheless found the resources to be the first boy East of the Mississippi to have ordered and had shipped the first Levi jeans. As a teenager, he defined what “cool” was. He loved learning and especially history, art, and the pioneers at the time. The many odd farm jobs he had during his teenage years taught him the value of hard work and accomplishment.
He enlisted in the Army in 1945 and was fortunate not to have seen any fighting, for as soon after, the U.S. dropped the A-bomb on Japan which ended the war. His life in the Army brought travel to Germany and soon a wife, and two daughters. The Army posting orders back to the States brought hardship for the family as his German born wife found American Army life difficult without her German extended family. After a few years, a divorce, and his wife and children where back in Germany. His Army life would be the eventual adventure he sought, with many postings to bases in Okinawa, Germany, Japan, Taiwan, The Philippines, Thailand and his final posting at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. In each of his various postings, he absorbed and assimilated the culture. He took so many customs and ways of life he found useful and incorporated them into his own. His interests in each culture he visited sparked an interest in communicating with the people. He learned to speak German, Japanese, Spanish, Thai and one of the most difficult of languages, Burmese.
Upon his retirement from the Army, he came back to his boyhood surroundings to purchase a small farm in Wayland, with stunning views, for his life long passion of art painting. His art was truly a culmination of his great curiosity for how the Masters developed their greatness. He took advantage of every opportunity, while in the service and after, to visit museums with his magnifying glass to uncover the techniques the Masters used to achieve renown. During the winters he would travel to Mexico to escape the cold harsh winters
of upstate New York. He spent 2 years in Mexico and once again assimilated into their culture. Occasionally he stayed in Richmond, Va. to visit his mother. Upon one extended stay, he engaged in a number of jobs in and around Richmond, Va., managing an outdoor sporting store, and being a personal assistant and “boy-Friday” to Mr. Clifton Guthrie, Chairman and founder of the Golden Skillet chain of fried chicken franchise stores throughout the South. After Mr. Guthrie had a debilitating stroke, Roger convinced him he needed a change of scenery and took him to Mexico, introducing him to his many friends and favorite spots. The trip proved fruitful and Mr. Guthrie regained his interest in life, and Roger returned to Wayland, NY. His communing with the outdoors and nature brought him to seek out and investigate the regional Indian lore. He would research the life and customs of the Iroquois and he built an authentic TeePee, as well as deerskin Indian attire. His acquired knowledge of the Native Americans and his willingness to travel made him much in demand at the regional schools where he would set up his teepee for the school children to explore and ask questions. His collection of canoes took him annually to the Adirondacks to paint the beauty of the region from the perspective of the canoeist. His fondness for horses and animals stayed with him throughout his life. He acquired two horses that were his pride and joy. He refurbished antique carriages and taught the horses to pull the carriage, which he eventually rode in many parades around town. He rode his horse until he was 85 years old. Without lessons or prior experience, just the artist in him, he fashioned a bust of Susan B. Anthony from the many descriptive pictures he found, and eventually had the bust cast in bronze. He donated the bust to the Ontario County Courthouse, where it remains on display. His bronze bust of Clara Barton is located in the 1st Chapter House of the American Red Cross in Dansville, NY.
Truly a renaissance man, in his 70’s, he applied to the Eastman School of Continuing Arts to learn to play classical violin. Soon after completing his course of training he joined the Crooked Lake Fiddle Club in Penn Yan where he entertained with the club for over 5 years. One of his favorite pastimes was searching out Elderberry flowers in the spring, so he knew where to begin picking the ripened berries in late summer, and then baking pies. He was a great baker and his pies were loved by all those he chose to share them with. If you wish to learn more about the Kornbau history, he has compiled a comprehensive history and genealogy of the immigrant families that ventured from Germany to the United States during the late 1800’s to settle in the Wayland/Dansville area. His experiences are well documented in his many musings and articles written by and about him.
Friends are invited to share memories of his life at the Walter E. Baird & Sons Funeral Home on Friday, March 26, 2021 from 11am-12pm; funeral services will be private. Roger will be buried in Coye Cemetery in South Bristol. Family & friends are reminded that facial coverings, social distancing and no-contact policies will be in place at the funeral home. If you are feeling unwell, please stay home and contact your healthcare provider.