ABC founder, industry icon Clancy Cornell passes

Posted on August 17, 2015

The Cornell family announced that Clarence "Clancy" Cornell passed away on Saturday surrounded by family at his home in Clermont, Fla.

The founder of ABC Companies, Clancy grew a small transport service — Faribault Bus Service — into an industry force leaving an indelible list of accomplishments and memories in his path. Having worked in and around buses since childhood, along with siblings Eddie and Alice, Clancy had the bus business in his blood throughout his lifetime.

With a vision to make bus service about passengers, Clancy struck out on his own in the early 1950’s, first purchasing the Boone Bus Service, then Elkhorn Stages and eventually purchasing the Faribault Bus Service — which he transformed from a small city bus service into a full-blown tour and charter business. Ultimately, the operation evolved into buying and selling coaches and the seed was planted for today’s industry-leading ABC Companies.

While busy building a successful business, Clancy and his beloved wife Norma were also building a family. Their four children including Deb, Ron, Roxanne and Dane grew up in the garages of Faribault Bus, where they worked as a team developing a strong work ethic and learning every aspect of the business. The legacy continues to grow today, as the third generation of Cornell grandchildren take on management roles in the daily operation of the business. Along the way many lifetime staffers have joined the Cornell family business as they’ve expanded their contacts and reach across North America — eventually partnering with family-owned Belgian bus manufacturer, Van Hool.

In addition to his leadership in the bus industry, Clancy’s legacy includes charitable work. His foremost charity, the Clarence Cornell School of Business at The Bus and Motorcoach Academy is a partnership between UMA and the College of Southern Maryland, offering accredited coursework to support industry professionals in their day-to-day business operations. Additionally, Clancy served as Chairman Emeritus at ABC Companies and was a board member for The Museum of Bus Transportation in Hershey, Pa. Clancy has also been a past recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Georgia Motorcoach Operators Associations.

Later in his life Clancy married MaryAnn (Haack) and for 25 years they lived in both Minnesota and Florida while raising daughter, Jennifer. They enjoyed traveling around the world together and with family, touring the country in their motorhome, designing and overseeing the building of their homes, fishing, gardening, and last but not least, their cherished Dachshunds.

Clancy will be remembered for his easy manner and hands-on style which helped him establish loyal business and personal relationships throughout his life. He treated customers and employees like family— creating a culture that thrives today at ABC. He enjoyed helping other fellow entrepreneurs, making many deals on a handshake and his good name.

“My dad was the backbone of this organization, and a true driving force in the industry,” said Dane Cornell, CEO/chairman of the board, ABC Companies. “He was tireless in his dedication to the industry, and gave his advice and support freely and with much generosity. He will be missed as a leader, a mentor and a friend by so many.”      

Celebration of his Life will be held on Thursday August 20th at 11:00 a.m. at Real Life Church (1501 Steve’s Road, Clermont) with visitation one hour prior. Private family internment.

Friends & guests will go directly from the church to ABC for a reception celebrating Clancy’s life held at ABC Companies, 17469 West Colonial Drive, Winter Garden, Fla.

Memorials preferred to Compassionate Care Hospice, 214 East Washington Street, Suite C, Minneola, Fla., 34715. Becker Funeral Home of Clermont is serving the family.

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