Cornutt was born and raised in Alabama City, near Gadsden, one of eight of children in his family. He graduated from Emma Sansom High School. He spent two years in the U. S. Army (1954–1956) before earning his bachelor's degree in music education from Jacksonville State University. He went on to get a master's in music education from the University of Alabama and an advanced degree in school administration from UAB.
Cornutt began his education career as the band director of General Forrest Junior High School in Alabama City. From there, he moved to Cordova High School, then Fairfield High School, and finally Samford University. In 1975, Cornutt became the principal of Homewood Middle School, a position he maintained until his retirement in 1992.
Outside of his career, Cornutt was involved in several music groups, including the the Sounds of Dixieland and the Joe Giattina Orchestra. When Giattina retired as director of the latter group on December 31, 1992, Cornutt became director. Cornutt's primary instrument was the trombone.
Cornutt resided in Vestavia Hills and was a member of Vestavia Hills United Methodist Church. He was survived by his wife of 51 years, Audrey Mashburn Cornutt, two sons, a daughter, two grandchildren, and several siblings. He was buried in Gadsden.
|Homewood Middle Principal
- Donald Ray Cornutt (obituary). (February 24, 2008). The Birmingham News.