Leggett & Platt leader and furniture hall of famer died at 93
May 9, 2022 | 1:12 pm CDT

Harry M. Cornell, former CEO of Leggett & Platt and member of the American Furniture Hall of Fame died May 8.

JOPLIN, Mo. — Former Leggett & Platt CEO and American Furniture Hall of Fame member, Harry M. Cornell Jr. died at his home in Joplin on Sunday, May 8. He was 93. A cause of death was not disclosed.

Cornell, chairman emeritus of Leggett & Platt, earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Missouri in 1950 and was also awarded an honorary doctorate of law in 2003.

In 1960, he became the CEO of Leggett & Platt and helped take it from a small regional company into a Fortune 500 manufacturing giant. The grandson of a founder of Leggett & Platt, Cornell joined the company in sales in 1950 and rose through the ranks to become president and CEO in 1960.

Over the next 52 years, he transformed Leggett & Platt from five plants and $7 million in annual sales into a $4 billion company with 130 plants in 18 countries.

In 2014, he was inducted into the American Furniture Hall of Fame as an Industry Fellow, and in 1998 he was named Citizen of the Year of Carthage, where Leggett & Platt was founded.

He and his wife’s major donations across the region helped numerous projects with his name being featured on several buildings, including the Harry M. Cornell Arts & Entertainment Complex, the Harry M. Cornell Medical Education Center and Harry M. Cornell Dental Education Center KCU Joplin campus, and the Cornell-Beshore Cancer Institute at Freeman Health System.

The couple has also given more than $11 million to the University of Missouri.

Just two weeks ago, Cornell was named Outstanding Citizen of the Year by the Joplin Chamber of Commerce.

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Larry Adams | Editor

Larry Adams is a Chicago-based writer and editor who writes about how things get done. A former wire service and community newspaper reporter, Larry is an award-winning writer with more than three decades of experience. In addition to writing about woodworking, he has covered science, metrology, metalworking, industrial design, quality control, imaging, Swiss and micromanufacturing . He was previously a Tabbie Award winner for his coverage of nano-based coatings technology for the automotive industry. Larry volunteers for the historic preservation group, the Kalo Foundation/Ianelli Studios, and the science-based group, Chicago Council on Science and Technology (C2ST).