Dr. Maconda Brown O'Connor, a loving, devoted mother and a lifelong advocate for children's issues, passed away on the 19th of May 2012. Born on the 4th of May 1930, she received an Associate's Degree from Pine Manor College, a Bachelor of Arts degree from St. Thomas University in Houston, and a Master's degree in Social Work from Smith College in Massachusetts. In 1988, she was awarded a Doctorate of Philosophy from the Smith College School of Social Work. Dr. O'Connor additionally received honorary doctorates from Pine Manor College and the University of Houston.
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Dr. O'Connor possessed a unique combination of gifts. A practicing social worker, she set up office in a broom closet in one of Houston's toughest juvenile detention centers in order to reach young offenders. She truly believed that there were no bad kids, only bad deeds, and that all kids deserved a second chance. She was also a systems thinker, who not only worked with children individually, but who encouraged new collaborations to leverage community resources for children.
She was active in many children's organizations, including Harris County Protective Services, El Hogar de Ninos, the Child Abuse Prevention Network, the Mental Health Association of Houston and Harris County, the Harris County Juvenile Probation Department, and was a co-founder of both the Houston A+ Challenge and the Greater Houston Collaborative for Children. Virtually all groups in the Houston area working with underprivileged children at one point or another received her grace. She additionally served on the boards of the Discovery Green Conservancy, the Brookings Institution, the American Leadership Forum, Texas Children's Hospital, Baylor College of Medicine, The Rice Center for Education, the University of Houston-Downtown, and the Houston Area Women's Center. She served as both President and Chairman of the Brown Foundation, one of Houston's leading benefactors. Her commitment to those in need has made her legendary in the Houston community.
Dr. O'Connor had a profound impact as a researcher and policy advocate. It is impossible to calculate those whose lives have been positively impacted by the programs she started, funded and supported. Her commitment to those in need has made her exemplary in the Houston community and her quiet impact will be felt for generations. Additionally, Dr. O'Connor was a licensed advanced clinical practitioner and a member of the national, state and local associations of social work. She maintained a small private practice, primarily providing therapeutic services to families and children who were underprivileged.
Maconda was predeceased by her parents, George R. and Alice Pratt Brown and her sister, Isabel Brown Wilson.
She is survived by her siblings, Nancy Brown Negley, Louisa S. Sarofim, and Mike Stude; four children, George R. O'Connor, Thomas ""Toby"" I. O'Connor, Nancy O'Connor Abendshein, and John H. O'Connor, their spouses, Lynn O'Connor, Barbie O'Connor, Mark ""Butch"" Abendshein and Sarah O'Connor; nine grandchildren, Ryan O'Connor, his wife Amy, Kelly O'Connor, Maconda Abinader, her husband Sacha, Nancy O'Connor, Andrew Abendshein, Ralph Abendshein, Rebecca O'Connor, Ian O'Connor, and Charlie O'Connor; one great-granddaughter, Louisa O'Connor; and her treasured Jack Russell Terriers. She was a nurturing, beloved mother and grandmother; guiding star whose love and support were cherished by all. Her family will miss her beyond measure.
The family would like to especially thank Gretchen Walter for her 17 years of loyal support and deep loving friendship.
Thanks also to Laura Quintero, Sean Ashby, Dr. Albert Raizner, Dr. Marcia Katz and the other doctors and nurses at The Methodist Hospital ICU for their compassionate care.
Serving as honorary pallbearers during the services are Sean Ashby, Dr. Roger Beaumont, Ellen Cohen, Nelson Emerson, Dr. Marcia Katz, Nancy Pitman, Gretchen Walter and Andrea White.
The memorial service is to be conducted at one o'clock in the afternoon on Wednesday, the 23rd of May, in the sanctuary of The Church of St. John the Divine, 2450 River Oaks Boulevard in Houston, where the Rev. Dr. Laurens A. Hall, Rector, is to officiate. For those desiring, valet parking attendants are to be positioned at the east porte-cochere.
Immediately following the service, all are invited to greet the family during a reception at a venue to be announced.
Prior to Wednesday afternoon's service, the family and honorary pallbearers will have gathered for a private interment at Glenwood Cemetery in Houston.
In lieu of customary remembrances, contributions in Dr. O'Connor's memory may be directed to the Baylor College of Medicine Adult Cystic Fibrosis Program, c/o Dr. Marcia Katz, One Baylor Plaza, Houston, TX, 77030, Houston A+ Challenge, 2700 Southwest Frwy., Suite B, Houston, TX, 77098; The Greater Houston Collaborative for Children, 3800 Buffalo Spdwy., Suite 300, Houston, TX, 77098; or to the
Published in Houston Chronicle from May 20 to May 22, 2012