Family and friends remember Texas Deputy Constable Bill Lankford Cornell Sr.

Updated: May. 14, 2021 at 11:40 AM EDT
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - Lost to history, but their sacrifices are not forgotten. Although National Police Week events are going virtual due to COVID-19 restrictions, nearly 400 fallen officers are still being remembered for their sacrifices, some who died long ago.

Central Texas Deputy Constable Bill Lankford Cornell, Sr. is finally getting recognized nearly a half century after his death.

“I think it’s just absolutely amazing. I just wish it hadn’t taken so long,” said his son, and namesake, Bill Lankford Cornell, Jr.

The McLennan County Precinct 1 Deputy Constable is honored at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C.

In September, 1973, Cornell suffered a heart attack and died after chasing and apprehending a suspected criminal. Local reports at the time of his passing say attempts to revive him by the police and the alleged criminal himself failed. Cornell’s son looks back on the good times with his dad as a kid.

“I remember riding on the motorcycle with him. He would take me periodically, and I remember riding in the squad cars,” he said. “One time we went to the State Fair in Dallas and we rode the roller coaster.”

During his career, Cornell held many position including Waco police officer, detective and a Constable.

Bill Donaldson, a former Constable, tells me he was shocked when Cornell died on duty. Donaldson said it is nice to finally see him recognized.

“He was a good guy. I liked him,” said Donaldson.

A well-respected law enforcement officer, Cornell made a positive impact on current McLennan County Sheriff Parnell McNamara.

McNamara was just starting out his U.S. Marshal career when he met Cornell.

“He was a good honorable man,” he said. “He was certainly a brave individual. He met danger head on and died fighting for the citizens. We lost a good lawman and a good citizen in Bill Cornell.”

Cornell’s name is now etched in stone on the national wall of honor, one of 394 officers added this year. Local reports at the time of his death say Cornell was a WWII Navy veteran and had one of the top records for solving major crimes in McLennan County.

“As they have discovered these names, we place them in the honor they deserve because of their sacrifice,” said Patrick Yoe, National Fraternal Order of Police President.

Police Week organizers say there will be an in-person candlelight vigil and memorial service in the nation’s capital the second week of October.

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