Dr. Mary Jane Gates McConnell of Davidson, N.C., passed away Friday, Jan. 6, 2012, at The Pines at Davidson where she was a resident. Dr. McConnell was born April 9, 1927, in Chicago, Ill. She was the only child of Edna Zimmer Gates and Dr. Raymond John Gates.
Mary Jane grew up in Chicago, where she attended Calumet High School. She later received her Doctor of Optometry degree from Northern Illinois College of Optometry. While there, she met and later married Dr. Claude Hardison McConnell in 1950. Together they moved to Davidson, N.C. where they began their first practice on Main Street.
Dr. McConnell was devoted to her family, patients and her community. Dr. Mary Jane and Dr. Claude practiced optometry in Davidson and Mooresville for 40 years. Her passion was the visual care of children. For years, she worked tirelessly in Raleigh as the North Carolina legislative representative for eye health care and as a member of the American Optometric Association. Dr. Mary Jane gave over 20 years of service internationally, offering her skills to patients in Bolivia, Nairobi, Haiti, Guatemala, Mexico and Honduras. She was the president of the Davidson School PTA, an active member of the Davidson Garden Club, a Girl Scout leader for eight years, and a docent at The Mint Museum of Art in Charlotte. She was honored by the Women of the Church at Davidson United Methodist Church. Later in life, Dr. McConnell was a volunteer on committees at The Pines and at Bethel Presbyterian Church.
Dr. McConnell is survived by her husband, Dr. Claude McConnell of The Pines; her daughters, Mary Claudia "Coco" McConnell Killian and her husband, Ray A. Killian Jr. of Charlotte, N.C. and Gayle Jane McConnell Tallardy and her husband Carl Tallardy III of Newburgh, N.Y. and Key Largo, Fla.; her son, Hardison Gates McConnell Sr, and his wife, Robbie Massey McConnell of Huntersville, N.C.; grandchildren, Ray A. "Rally" Killian III of St. Louis, Mo., Mary Gates Killian of Charlotte, N.C., Hardison Gates "Skip" McConnell Jr. and Cameron O'Neal McConnell of Huntersville, N.C. She is also survived by her stepmother, Vivian Rogue Gates of Clearwater, Fla.
A service to celebrate the life of Mary Jane McConnell was held at Tuesday, Jan. 10, at Bethel Presbyterian Church in Cornelius, N.C. with the Reverend Dr. Bill Cain officiating. Visitation followed the service and burial was private.
The family extends their most heartfelt thanks and appreciation to the staff, doctors and nurses of The Pines who so skillfully and lovingly cared for Mary Jane these past few months.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorials be made to Bethel Presbyterian Church, 19920 Bethel Church Road, Cornelius, NC 28031 or The Pines at Davidson, 400 Avinger Lane, Davidson, NC 28036.
Samuel S. James, Funeral Service Lic. of Huntersville served the family. www.samuelsjamesfsl.com