Edward Eugene ("Gene") Corno of Tempe, Arizona, passed away at the Summit at Sunland Springs, Mesa, Arizona on December 6, 2019 at the age of 96. He was born April 11, 1923 in Morenci, Arizona. Gene was a true Arizona native. His parents were the late Mary Spezia Corno and Peitro del Corno. Peitro ("Pete") immigrated to Arizona from a small community near Milan, Italy and worked in the Clifton copper mines until the family relocated to Tempe in Gene's youth. Gene attended Tempe Normal School (later named Arizona State Teachers College, now University) to become an art teacher. He postponed college plans in 1942 to enlist in the U.S. Navy as an Aviation Ordnance trainee, hoping to be airborne during during World War II. When the war ended, Gene had never deployed, but was discharged with honor and a Victory Medal in 1946. He resumed college in Tempe and became an official student photographer for events. There, he met and married Verla Eldean Hornbacher, who worked in the Alumni Office. Gene graduated Tempe Normal School with a BA in Education in 1949, and received an MA in arts education in 1951. He and Verla married in 1948. Gene's first teaching job was at the high school in Williams, Arizona, where his daughter, Lyn, was born, in 1950. He transferred to the art department at Tempe High School in 1953, when he and Verla bought a home near Encanto Park where they raised their children. Gene and Verla had two sons (David Gene, 1954; and Philip Del, 1956). Gene also taught in the art departments, respectively, at South Mountain High School and Mesa Community College (MCC). At MCC, Gene was a founder of the Art Gallery. He also chaired the art department, and spent many years developing their exhibit center and gallery before retiring in the 1970s. Gene enjoyed golfing with friends and family at Mesa Country Club, where his playing earned him a low handicap and more than one hole-in-one. He and Verla loved entertaining, bridge games, and their condominium on a golf course in Flagstaff during summer. They traveled (to Cape Cod, MA and other locations where he visited his daughter, took photographs, and painted). A talented artist, Gene created many beautiful paintings, ceramics, photographs, sculptures, and commercial paper and fabric products throughout his lifetime, some of which have been donated by his family for installation locally, including to the Tempe Historical Museum, Arizona State University's Schools of Education and Business, and other Tempe and Mesa establishments. His painting of the Research Vessel Knorr, returning with the remains of the Titanic, was acquired by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute in Falmouth, MA where it is displayed in their Visitor's Center. An only child, Gene was preceded in death by his parents and his wife, Verla (who passed in 2007). He is survived by his three children, Lyn, David, and Philip; three grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.
A private memorial and burial service will be held at the National Memorial Cemetery of Arizona, 20329 North Cave Creek Road, Phoenix, Arizona. In lieu of flowers, the family has requested contributions be sent to the Hospice of the Valley, 1510 East Flower Street, Phoenix, Arizona 85014 in memory of Gene Corno. Richardson Funeral Home, Tempe, Arizona is compassionately serving the family.
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Hospice of the Valley
1510 E Flower St, Phoenix AZ 85014