Cornelius S. Van Rees, 91, of Mystic, CT, fondly known as Neal, died peacefully at Avalon Health Care Center on February 15, 2021, after a courageous battle with cancer. Son of the late Cornelius R. and Beatrice (Shreve) Van Rees, he was born in Brooklyn, NY on May 29, 1929 and raised in Freeport, Long Island. Neal graduated from Williston Academy in 1947, and then attended college at Denison University in Granville, OH, graduating in 1951. Finally he attended Columbia University School of Law in New York City, earning his LLB as a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar in 1954. Neal later served as President of the Columbia University Alumni Association, where he established the Columbia Alumni Travel Program. From 1954 to 1956, Neal proudly served in the US Army as an intelligence analyst in Fort Bragg, NC. Upon his return home, he passed the New York and Federal Bars and joined the NYC Wall Street law firm of Thacher Proffitt and Wood (TPW), where he became a Senior Partner and worked very hard for 38 years. After a distinguished legal career in maritime shipping and corporate law, Neal retired from the law in 1994. He continued serving as a board member at Graham Manufacturing Corp., owned by a dear friend from Williston Academy, until 2012. Neal and his beloved wife of 36 years, Alix, moved from NYC to live full time in Stonington, CT in 1994 after Neal retired from TPW. There he took up sailing as a new favorite pastime. He bought his first sailboat, the Nealix, a 25′ Pierson in 1987, and learned to sail at the Stevens-Colgate Sailing School on City Island. Neal’s interests included skiing, singing, sailing, traveling, ballroom dancing, and public speaking. He skied annually with his children, grandchildren and friends until the age of 88. He sang continuously throughout his life, including with the University Glee Club of NYC, the Calvary Church Choir and the Stoneridge Senior Living Glee Club. For many years, Neal and Alix attended the Calvary Church in Stonington, CT. Neal is predeceased by his parents and his sister, Lorraine S. (Van Rees) Backer and his brother-in-law, William L. Backer. He is survived by his loving wife, Alix (McIvor) Van Rees of Mystic, CT; his daughter Pamela M. (Van Rees) Lundquist and her husband Thomas of Georgetown, MA; his daughter Claire K. Van Rees and her husband James T. Horney of East Northport, NY; grandchildren Jeffrey T. Lundquist of Fort Worth, TX; Scott C. Lundquist and Michael J. Lundquist of Georgetown, MA; Katherine M. Van Horn of East Northport, NY; and step-granddaughter Olivia L. Zuill of Melbourne, Australia. He also leaves his step-sons John C. Zuill and his wife Rachael of Melbourne, Australia; Robert S. Zuill of Hamilton, Bermuda; and David C. Zuill and his wife, Linda, of Smith’s Parish, Bermuda. Mystic Funeral Home is assisting the family with private memorial service arrangements. In lieu of flowers, donations in Cornelius’s memory may be made to the American Cancer Society https://www.cancer.org , which would be very much appreciated by the family.
Remembering members of the Williston Northampton community