Herbert Cornish, SPH professor emeritus

Herbert Cornish, professor emeritus of environmental and industrial health at the School of Public Health (SPH), died April 25 at his home in Ypsilanti. He was 86.

Cornish was born Sept. 22, 1916, in Fremont, Ohio, and he married Grace Heater in 1943. He received his undergraduate degrees in science and education from Bowling Green State University and served in the U.S. Army from 1941-45. He earned his doctorate in biochemistry from U-M in 1956, and immediately afterward embarked on a 29-year career as a professor in the SPH. Following his retirement from the University in 1984, Cornish continued to publish and consult in his field.

Cornish taught the first course in industrial toxicology at SPH and was responsible for development of the school’s Toxicology Program, the first of its kind in the nation. Under his leadership, the program forged important partnerships with the U-M Medical School and the College of Pharmacy. In 1980, the Society of Toxicology, of which he was a charter member, named Cornish Educator of the Year.

“As a teacher, he was very close to his students. He was the sort of advisor every student wants–he took a personal interest in everyone. He was a people person. As a colleague, Herb was exemplary. He served on numerous School of Public Health committees and was devoted to the University,” says his colleague, Robert Gray, professor of environmental sciences and senior associate dean for research and facilities.

Cornish was a member of the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors, an officer for the Fan Association of North America, an elder of the First Presbyterian Church of Ypsilanti, a past president of the Ypsilanti Historical Society, and for many years served as a Boy Scout troop leader. Cornish is survived by his wife of almost 60 years, Grace Cornish; four children, Robert (Linda) Cornish, William (Barbara) Cornish, Carolyn (John) Weins, and Barbara (Michael) Timm; 11 grandchildren; and one great-grandchild.
—Submitted by Leslie Stainton, School of Public Health


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