March 17, 2013 7:43 AM
Passed away peacefully of natural causes in her home on March 1, 2013, surrounded by her children. She was 94 years old.
Cornelia was born June 29,1918, in Holland, to J B A and Anna Kessler, and was the fourth of six children.
She was raised in the English countryside and at an early age became an avid equestrian. Through her involvement with farming and fox hunting during her youth, she developed a lifelong love of the land.
During World War II she was a member of the Women's Land Army, providing food for the war effort. It was during this time that she met her future husband, Roger E. Chapman, a navigator in the U.S. Air Force, who was stationed at an airbase nearby. They were married in England and soon after moved to California. In 1954, they settled in Santa Barbara.
Roger taught in the Music Department at UCSB, where he served as Chairman, while Cornelia raised their 4 children. She continued her love of riding and had all of her children on horseback at an early age, teaching her daughter to ride competitively. Cornelia was a lifelong member of the Hope Ranch Riding and Trails Association, a member of the Sage Hens Riding Group, where she served both as secretary and president, and the Santa Ynez Hunt.
Cornelia was very involved with the community and was a member of the Little Town Club and the Santa Barbara Woman's Club. Cornelia never lost her agricultural roots. She and Roger were early advocates of organic farming, and grew avocados, lemons, and vegetables, as well as tending bees on their various properties in the Santa Barbara area. They were the creators of Fairview Gardens, purchasing land that was slated for residential development, rehabilitating it, and creating one of the first sustainable organic farms in the Santa Barbara area. This permanent, suburban, open-space has created a living legacy for the benefit of the community for many years to come.
Cornelia was a lifelong student of art, studying at UCLA under Jan Stussy, at UCSB under Bill Dole and Ray Strong, and later with Chris Chapman and Debra Breedon. She worked in acrylics, pastels, watercolors, needlepoint and weaving. She was a member of the Goleta Valley Art Association and her paintings hang in many homes throughout Santa Barbara.
She pursued her love of riding and art throughout her life, actively doing both until into her 90's. She managed a full social calendar with her usual style and grace, enjoyed beating her friends and family at Gin Rummy, doing crossword puzzles, and telling amazing stories in her distinct Dutch- English- American accent.
Cornelia is preceded in death by her husband Roger, her four sisters, and one grandchild. She is survived by her brother John, daughter Devon (Terry), sons Andy (Tamara), Mark (Kate) and Jon (Courtney), nine grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
A special thanks to all her friends and to her attendants, Delcher and Marisol, who made her later years so full of quality and peace.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to the Hearts Adaptive Riding Program and the Santa Ynez Animal Rescue Team.
Known to her friends as Cornie and to her grandchildren as Oma, she will forever be in our hearts and minds. Truly a life well lived!