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Dr. Cornelius  L. Knowles

His Life

Dr. Cornelius Knowles, DDS

Cornelius Levy Knowles was born in Hallandale, FL to Melborne and Albertha Knowles on January 20, 1928.  Growing up as the second of seven children, Cornelius was affectionately known to his family and friends as “Corky.” 


Cornelius realized at a young age that he was gifted with his hands and aspired to be a brain surgeon.  He graduated from Dorsey High School in 1946, after which the focused and determined young man went to work in an effort to save money for college.   Two years later, Corky moved to Washington, DC to pursue his education, undaunted by the racial prejudices that governed the south.

Cornelius obtained his undergraduate degree from Howard University in 1952, and continued his postgraduate education at the College of Medicine.  After completing two years of medical school, he realized his passion for dentistry and transferred to the College of Dentistry.  Among his dental school class of 52 students, Corky received the second highest clinical average, with over seven times the requirements for graduation.  He accomplished all this in spite of working the night shift at the post office five days per week.  After earning his doctorate degree in 1958, Dr. Knowles became a clinical instructor at Howard University College of Dentistry, where he served until he moved to Chicago in 1960 to open his own practice. In 1988 he earned a certification in orthodontics/orthopedics to better serve his patients.  


Dr. Knowles served as an examiner for the Northeast Regional Board of Dentistry for 23 years and the Illinois State Board of Dentistry for 9 ½ years.  He has been a member of the following professional organizations for over 50 years:  American Dental Society, Illinois State Dental Society, Chicago Dental Society, and Lincoln Dental Society.


Cornelius’ work ethic and focus were also evident in social and community arenas.  He spent several decades as an active member of the Midwesterners and Unicorns organizations. 


Corky’s playful wit and humor made him the “life of the party” everywhere he went.  While he always had a joke to share (even sharing the same ones over & over), his reactions to his own jokes were priceless.  He would laugh at each joke as if it were the first time he told it, causing others to laugh with him at his reactions more than at the jokes themselves.


In January 1962, Cornelius married the love of his life, Althea.  Together they supported countless charities in the community and opened their home to many family members and friends in their time of need.  They had the unique ability to make everyone feel like family.  Together for nearly 60 years, their love was like that of a fairytale; not perfect, but certainly perfect for them.


Dr. Knowles passed away peacefully on April 24, 2020.  He was preceded in death by his parents, Melbourne and Alberta, son, Angelo, brother Darnell, sister-in-law, Piccola, brother-in-law, Roosevelt Williams, and son-in-law, Arlandres Hubbard. 


To celebrate his memory, Corky leaves his adoring wife, Althea, five children, Juliette Hubbard, Veronica Ford (Edwin), Malika Mohammed, Carey (Ania), and Stacey, two goddaughters, Germaine Reynolds and Terisa Griffin-Kendall (John), a loyal office manager for 52 years, Zenovia Evans, five siblings, John (Julia), Garnett (Virginia), Eugene, Dorothy Williams, and Vera Humphrey (Marion), eleven grandchildren, thirteen great-grandchildren, and a host of nieces, nephews, and friends.

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