Mary Kathleen Connell was born June 5, 1918 in Topeka, Kansas, the daughter of Ray and Sadie Lattner. The family soon moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma where Mary K. was a graduate of Monte Cassino High School. She followed her sister, Laura, to the University of Kansas and was a member of the Kappa Kappa Gamma Sorority.
At KU, Mary K. met her future husband, O.J. Connell, Jr., who was attending law school. Upon graduation, Mary K. returned to Tulsa with a degree in Physical Education. She worked at the Tulsa YWCA teaching wrestling to Native American children and physical exercise to women.
Mary K. and O.J. were married on May 12, 1941 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Four children were born; O.J. Connell, III of Louisville, Kentucky, Nicki (Alan) Mulally of Seattle, Washington, Ray (Carolyn) Connell of El Dorado, Kansas and Tim (Emily) Connell of El Dorado, Kansas.
After her marriage, Mary K. lived in rural El Dorado for the next 62 years. She rode her horse, Boots, to visit the neighbors, who became her mentors in rural life. She was also a member of the WMB Book Club, West Branch Unit and Hospital Auxiliary of Susan B. Allen Memorial Hospital. She was a 4-H leader for the El Dorado Boosters 4-H Club. She enjoyed reading to grade school children and was a long-time, faithful member of St. John’s the Evangelist Catholic Church. Mary K. loved playing bridge.
Mary K. was a lifelong proponent of physical exercise. She often exhorted her children by saying, “it’s a nice day, go outside and play.” Mary K. played tennis and field hockey in high school. She participated in intramural sports and earned a letter playing basketball at KU. Later, when her children were older, she took up tennis again, at age 60 and continued to play until the age of 85. She continued to exercise at the YMCA until her death. Mary K. was the inspiration for El Dorado Working on Wellness (EWOW), a program to improve the physical health of local youth.
O.J. and Mary K. Connell supported and served on the Boards of many local institutions including The Butler County Historical Society, Kansas Oil Museum, Butler County Community College, Coutts Museum of Art, Susan B. Allen Memorial Hospital Women’s Auxiliary, Bradford Memorial Library and Partners in Education.
O.J. and Mary K. were involved in farming and livestock production for many years, beginning with chickens, Southdown sheep, Shetland ponies, swine, and for many years, a cow/calf operation. Mary K. was on hand each time the cattle were worked to keep track of the animals. Mary K. also kept the books for the farm for a number of years.
O.J. and Mary K. believed strongly in the value of education. They established scholarships at Butler County Community College, University of Kansas, and University of Notre Dame.
In 2000, after 60 years of marriage, O.J. Connell preceded Mary K. in death. She is survived by 4 children, 11 grandchildren and 2 great grandchildren.
Mary K. celebrated a century of life surrounded by her family in June 2018. She died September 18, 2018, with her family by her side.
Rosary will be held Friday, September 21, 2018, at 6:00 PM at St. John’s Catholic Church, 302 N. Denver Street, El Dorado, Kansas.
Catholic Mass will be held Saturday, September 22, 2018, at 10:00 AM at St. John’s Catholic Church.
Memorials are established at Butler County Community College Foundation, Kansas Oil Museum, Coutts Museum of Art, and Susan B. Allen Memorial Hospital Foundation.
Please sign her online guestbook at www.carlsoncolonial.com
Butler County Community College Foundation
901 S. Haverhill, El Doardo KS 67042
Kansas Oil Museum
383 E. Central Ave., El Dorado KS 67042
Coutts Museum of Art
110 N. Main St., El Dorado KS 67042
Susan B. Allen Foundation
720 W. Central, El Dorado KS 67042