Cover photo for Lawrence Ralph Cordell's Obituary
Lawrence Ralph Cordell Profile Photo

Lawrence Ralph Cordell

February 18, 1939 — February 19, 2023

Council Grove

Lawrence Ralph Cordell


Lawrence “Larry” Cordell of Council Grove, Kansas, died February 19, 2023, at Diversicare of Council Grove. He was born February 18, 1939, in Hartman, Colorado and moved to Kansas at an early age. Larry graduated from Soldier Kansas High School in 1957, attended Kansas State University, and graduated from Fort Hays State University in 1964 with B.S. degrees in Agriculture and Botany.

Following graduation, Larry joined the United States Army Corp of Engineers as the first park ranger in the Saint Louis District. He was initially stationed at the Alton, Illinois, locks and dam.  In 1965 he transferred to the just-completed Carlyle Lake at Carlyle, Illinois. He also served as a park ranger at Rend Lake at Sesser, Illinois, before becoming the Reservoir Manager at Council Grove, Kansas, in 1970. In 1972 he was promoted to Area Manager for John Redmond Reservoir at Burlington, Kansas, and the reservoirs at Council Grove and Marion, Kansas.  He was severely injured on the job in 1970 in an automobile accident, leading to early civil disability retirement in 1974.

After his retirement, Larry and Kathy moved back to the Council Grove area where Larry volunteered with the Busy Workers 4-H Club. He was a county 4-H co-leader for Horticulture and started the Dairy Goat 4-H project in Morris County.

Larry was known to Kansas state legislators for his fight against off-target aerial spraying, with particular focus on the long-term damage done to timber in the state.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Sanford “Glenn” Cordell and Gladys Cordell (Hickman), brother Sanford “Earl” Cordell and sister Gladys “Beryl” Fisher Askren (fraternal twins), infant brother William LeRoy Cordell, sisters-in-law Frances (Earl) Cordell and Jean (Elden) Cordell, and brother-in-law Marvin Fordham.

Larry is survived by his wife of 61 years, Kathy Cordell; daughter Vickie Cordell and husband Patrick Byrd, of El Dorado, KS; son Bret Cordell of Paola, KS; grandson Greg Cordell and wife Sarah, of St. Augustine, FL; great-grandson Felix Cordell; sister Althea Fordman; and brother Elden Cordell.

Visitation will be held March 1, 2023, from 4:00 pm to 5:30 pm at Sawyer Funeral Home, Council Grove, Kansas. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that memorial contributions be made to the Arbor Day Foundation. Larry chose to be cremated, and a private scattering ceremony will be held later in the spring.

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