Wilna Joane Cornwell was born in Riverside in 1918 to John and Frieda Cornwell. Her family moved to Alhambra about the time she entered 5th grade and she attended high school there. She and her older sister, Ida Emilie, attended UCLA and earned degrees as teachers.
At the start of WWII both sisters joined the WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service) and Wilna became an aerographers mate. When she returned to civilian life she went to USC and earned a Masters Degree in Library Science, then went to work for the Los Angeles Unified School District.
She retired early to take care of her mother who had had a stroke. Her mother passed away about five years later in 1983. That is when Wilna started traveling, most often on long freighter trips. In 1987 she sold the family home in Alhambra and moved to Villa Gardens. She continued traveling on freighters until she reached the age restriction. (Since freighters do not have physicians on board, they have an age restriction for passengers.) She continued to travel extensively right up until she passed away on April 7 – she had a trip scheduled to leave San Diego on April 6 and in February insisted she was still going on that trip.
Wilna took at least one “major” trip – usually about three months – and often one month “minor” trip each year. She was a P.E.O. member and was a passionate bridge player. The Oxford Atlas of the World, donated by Ex Libras in her memory and now in the Villa Gardens library , recognizes her love of travel and through it her knowledge of the world.