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Donna Harrison '75 March 13, 2024 3:05 PM updated: March 13, 2024 3:19 PM

Donna Lou (Cornelius) Harrison 

December 14, 1952 - March 8, 2024 

Donna Lou Harrison (Née Cornelius) of Bay City, Texas passed away in a tragic car accident on March 8, 2024 at the age of 71. Donna was born on December 14, 1952 to Bettie Lou and Leonard Herff Cornelius in Bay City, Texas.

She spent her life growing up on her family's cattle ranches from Texas to Australia. She attended Holy Cross School, Warwick and St. Mary's boarding schools in Queensland, Australia and graduated from Bay City high school in 1971. She attended Southwest Texas University and graduated from Texas A&M University in 1975 with a biomedical science degree. She was a proud founding member of Alpha Delta Pi, the first sorority at Texas A&M and served as president.

Donna, fondly referred to as “LouLou”, met Robert E. Hovel, Jr. while at Texas A&M and they married and had two children, Jennifer and Tres. Donna taught chemistry and biology in the public school system for over 20 years in Van Vleck and Bay City school districts.

She married her lifelong family friend and old sweetheart George Richard Harrison of Bay City Texas in 2001. Always together they deeply loved and cared for each other, their community and the people of Matagorda County. Both Donna and George were lifelong members of Holy Cross Catholic Church and loved participating in church activities.

Donna was a proud sustaining member of the Junior Service League and loved to attend the Charity Ball. She worked hard for the Matagorda County Fair and Livestock show running the ticket office with many other volunteers. She and George received a lifetime achievement award from the Matagorda County Fair and Livestock association and were granted a resolution and expression of high regard from the Texas House of Representatives. She was a founding member of the Matagorda County Cattle Women's Association and served as President multiple terms and treasurer.

She was a member of Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raiser’s Association and served on numerous committees with a special emphasis in cattle health and safety and pharmaceuticals. She helped with the Bay City ISD school foundation and Matagorda County General Hospital Foundation.

Donna and George’s greatest passions were for family, ranching and raising 7J performance horses. She adored her two grandchildren Jet and George and was always up for an outdoor adventure on the ranch. They loved to ride horses together, fish, canoe and explore ranching life. A lifelong cowgirl and horsewoman Donna began training with a cutting horse in her late 60’s and rode well in many competitions. She loved every moment with her beloved horse “Cardi”. Donna could always be counted on, she worked very hard and she never quit.

Donna was predeceased by her first husband Robert E. Hovel, Jr. her parents Bettie Lou and Leonard Herff Cornelius and her sister Mary “Nuala” Brown.

She is survived by her husband George Richard Harrison, daughter Jennifer Hovel Ligums and husband Jeb and their children Jet and George. Her son Robert E. Hovel, III “Tres” and wife Tania. Her sisters; Debbie Reed and husband Bob, Amy McLeod and Husband Mack, Bonnie Elbel and husband David, Melody Sanders and Husband Ken, Brenda Rider and husband Bill, Connie Coney and husband Jeff and her brother Leonard Herff Cornelius, Jr. and wife Nancy. Brother-in-law Hurschel Harrison, sisters-in-law Mary Selcer and Melissa and husband Elliot Keeble. Her 31 nephews and nieces and their spouses, 61 and counting great nephews and nieces and an uncountable number of cousins and loving friends.

Visitation will begin at 5:00 PM Friday, March 15, 2024 at Holy Cross Catholic Church in Bay City, followed by the recitation of the Holy Rosary at 5:30 PM. Funeral Mass will be 10:00 AM Saturday, March 16, 2024 at Holy Cross Catholic Church with Rev. Stephen Vacek officiating. A private family interment will follow. Pallbearers will be Robby Reed, Rick Reed, Brian Elbel, Michael Reitz, Brandon Reitz, Jake McLeod, Len Cornelius, Brant Rider, Blake Rider, Braden Rider and Avery Coney.

In lieu of flowers donations can be made to the Matagorda County Fair and Livestock Association with the memo notation “Donna Harrison Scholarship Fund”. Mail to: Matagorda County Fair and Livestock Association; P. O. Box 1803, Bay City, TX 77404-1803. 


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