Lovick Corn is being remembered as a visionary who combined sharp financial sense with compassionate concern for a better community.
The local philanthropist and businessman died Thursday morning at the Spring Harbor retirement community, said Susan Wiggins, vice president of stakeholder relations for the W.C. Bradley Co., where Corn had been vice chairman and worked for more than 50 years.
He was 91.
The cause of death wasn't officially released, but Mat Swift, Corn's friend and colleague for more than 25 years said, "He had been ill for a number of years. His body just finally gave out."
And he gave so much.
Swift, president of the real estate division at the W.C. Bradley Co., said he often would find Corn amid piles of paper in his office.
"They were different projects, and he was studying them all," Swift said. "He was just that kind of person."
Corn married into the prominent Bradley-Turner family, whose members have been major benefactors in the area. His wife, Elizabeth "Betty" Turner Corn is one of the grandchildren of the company's founder, W.C. Bradley. The 128-year-old company is a multi-brand supplier of consumer goods and services focused primarily on the home and leisure lifestyle markets.
Corn was considered as personable as a common man but had an uncommon touch when it came to real estate. For example, instead of clear-cutting property to make the most money, he advocated leaving as many trees as possible while still giving his partners a substantial return on their investment. He and Betty turned 1,000 acres of farm and timber land into what now contains the Bradley Park Drive commercial corridor, the Brookstone and Tree Tops subdivisions, Brookstone School and Brookstone Centre office park.
"He was the consummate gentleman and consummate businessman," Swift said. "Not only did he do right for the shareholders but also for the environment."
Columbus benefited from that attitude beyond Corn's company. Two buildings bearing his name show the lovely legacy he left: The Salvation Army Lovick P. Corn Community Center on Warm Springs Road and the Columbus State University Corn Center for the Visual Arts on Front Avenue, which also honors his wife.
"He was such a magnificent person," Wiggins said. "He had a tremendous impact in our company and in the community, and he loved his family before anything. He just was a gracious Christian businessman, and he was a wonderful role model for all of us at the Bradley Company in every conceivable way."
CSU president Tim Mescon said in an email that Corn was "a great friend" to the university.
"Through his generosity, his wise counsel and strong support, Lovick aided CSU greatly, helping to promote the growth of the university's academic programs and its outreach to the community," Mescon said.
Corn made it possible for astronaut Jim Lovell of Apollo 13 to be the featured speaker at the grand opening of the CSU Coca-Cola Space Science Center in 1996.
Corn's generosity and his involvement in the public good extended past Columbus. He chaired the LaGrange College Investing in Values campaign, which raised more than $37 million for the institution from 1995 to 2000. The college honored him with the naming of the Lovick Pierce Corn Professional Chair in Art History. The permanent collection of art housed in the college's Lamar Dodd Art Center includes works acquired through the Corn family. Corn also served on the college's board of trustees for 28 years.
LaGrange College president Dan McAlexander said in a news release, "Lovick and his wife, Betty, have unselfishly given of their time, energy and resources to enhance the student experience here. Their example of quiet, faithful stewardship has been a blessing to us and countless others."
Corn Auditorium in the college's Lewis Library is named in honor of Corn's mother, Pauline Pierce Corn, a 1913 graduate.
Corn was born Aug. 14, 1922, in Macon, where he was educated in the public schools. He graduated from the University of North Carolina following his service as a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy during World War II in the Southwest Pacific and Philippines. He was commanding officer of the USS APC42.
Corn met Betty in Sea Island, Ga., in 1946. They were married in 1949 and have five daughters, 12 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
His community service includes the governing boards of the Cotton Foundation, Epworth by the Sea and Wesleyan College. He was actively involved with the Columbus Museum, Springer Opera House, CSU Art Department and Schwob School of Music, Columbus Symphony Orchestra, Historic Columbus and the Columbus Riverwalk development.
Corn received an honorary doctor of laws degree from LaGrange College in 1995. He also was honored as a member of the college's "greatest generation" of volunteer leaders at a celebration in 2005. In 2006, he and his wife received the Stanley S. Kresge Award from the United Methodist Higher Education Foundation for their support of church-related education.
The memorial service for Corn will be Saturday at 11 a.m. in St. Luke United Methodist Church of Columbus. The family will receive friends immediately following the service in the St. Luke Ministry Center. A private interment will be in Linwood Cemetery.