Donald S. Connery
1926 - 2021
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CONNERY-Donald S., a widely traveled foreign correspondent during the "golden age of journalism," author, and eloquent advocate for criminal justice reform, passed away on January 11, 2021, at age 94 from complications caused by pneumonia. Knowing early and clearly what he wanted to do in life, Don pursued his passion for journalism and communications avidly to the end. Born Feb. 9, 1926 and raised in New York City, he served in the U.S. Army in the Pacific during World War II. In 1946, he covered The Philippines' independence ceremonies in Manila for the Armed Forces Radio Service and the first United Nations General Assembly in New York for United Press. While at Harvard on the G.I. Bill from 1947-50, his broadcasts for Boston's World Radio University reached a global audience. After marrying his college love, Leslie Guy, he returned briefly to UP in time to cover Senator Joe McCarthy at the start of his "Red Scare" rampage and then served a year as assistant director of Harvard's News Office until joining Time Inc. in 1951. From 1957 to 1965, he roamed the world as a Time Inc. bureau chief and foreign correspondent for Time, Life, Fortune and Sports Illustrated while raising four children with Leslie, an educator and autism pioneer, from homes in New Delhi, Tokyo and London. An eyewitness to history who reported everyday life as well as crises on three continents and the U.S., he covered presidential campaigns, the rise of postwar Japan and South Korea, military coups in Asia, revolutions in colonial Africa, civil wars in Ireland and Cyprus, the Dalai Lama's flight from Tibet, and crucial events of the U.S.-USSR rivalry. Don's Time-Life assignments, often with top photojournalists, ranged from politics and business to sports, entertainment and the arts. His Soviet Union assignments in 1961-62, notably a 6,000-mile journey on the Trans-Siberian Railroad, eventually led to his expulsion from Moscow. His professional encounters with 20th-century personalities included Douglas MacArthur, Eleanor Roosevelt, Adlai Stevenson, John & Robert Kennedy, Chou En-Lai, Ho Chi Minh, Nikita Khrushchev, Jawaharlal Nehru, Robert Frost, Frank Lloyd Wright, Yuri Gagarin, Ingmar Bergman, Igor Stravinsky, Frank Sinatra, Shirley MacLaine, Jackie Robinson, William Styron and The Beatles. In 1968, as a London freelancer with two books published (The Scandinavians, The Irish), he moved with his family to Connecticut's Litchfield Hills, where he wrote One American Town, Guilty Until Proven Innocent, Convicting the Innocent, The Inner Source and Escape From Oblivion. Now permanently settled, he contributed extensively over many decades to his beloved local community, including serving as founding director of the Kent Land Trust. His professional life took an unusual turn in 1973 when his daughter's high school classmate, Peter Reilly, 18, succumbed to police interrogation-room pressures and "confessed" to viciously slaying his mother despite his obvious innocence. Peter's conviction ignited a national cause celebre to fight this miscarriage of justice. The teenager's exoneration, documented by Don in Guilty Until Proven Innocent, marked the beginning of his four-decade nationwide involvement in work to rectify wrongful conviction cases. He was a pioneer in the movement that spurred the DNA revolution and the founding of the national network of innocence projects, leading to greater awareness of the magnitude of unjust convictions. An organizer of landmark forums on false memories and false confessions, he served as an advisor to the Center on Wrongful Convictions and the National Center for Reason and Justice. "You can retain your passion for journalism while acting on your passion for justice," he said in a 2004 New York Times interview. "Both are about searching for the truth and hoping the truth helps." A captivating storyteller and dynamo of determination, positive energy, and perpetual curiosity, Don is survived by his wife, Leslie Guy Connery, children (Jan, Eric, Julie and Carol), daughter-in-law (Jane), sons-in-law (Keith and Bruce), eight grandchildren and a great-grandson. A memorial service to celebrate Don's life will be held in early summer. Donations to honor his life can be made to the Center on Wrongful Convictions, National Center for Reason and Justice, Kent Land Trust and Kent CT Memorial Library. https://www.kennyfuneralhomes.com/

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Published in Hartford Courant on Jan. 17, 2021.
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Memories & Condolences
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72 entries
February 17, 2021
So sorry to read this. My condolences to Leslie and the family. Donald Connery was my step-cousin. His stepmother Anne Morris Connery and my mother Martha Morris Johnson were sisters. I tried to reach him via an email address I had found via a Google search 2 or 3 years ago, but did not receive a response. Although it has been many years since we had been in contact, I have bragged many times about his accomplishments, of which there were so many. I remember hearing the story of the trip with his photographer on the Trans-Siberian Railway from the eastern part of Russia to Moscow. I also remember that Jan, at about age 9 (not positive of her age then?), tried to mail a letter to a friend in Japan, written in Japanese, including the address on the envelope. When asked, she said how would the Japanese post office know where to deliver it if it was in English? I only visited the family once in Kent, years ago, but never forgot it. Lucy Johnson, Long Beach, CA.
Lucy Johnson
Family
January 23, 2021
Justin Connery
Grandchild
January 21, 2021
Julie Connery-Smith
Daughter
January 21, 2021
Julie Connery-Smith
Daughter
January 21, 2021
Julie Connery-Smith
Daughter
January 19, 2021
‘Whoever saves a single life saves the entire world.’
Don saved many worlds.
I am devastated. I did not know saints died.
James Van de Velde
January 18, 2021
A very sweet and beautiful and inspiring and amazing great person who i had the greatest pleasure of knowing my condolences go out to the family
Adreanne good jeannie granddaughter
Friend
January 18, 2021
Please except my deepest sympathies to you and your family at this time of grieving. May the love of friends and family carry you through your grief.
Simone Taylor
January 18, 2021
We met Donald when our family was at our lowest point in life. Our son Ryan was wrongly accused of a crime he did not commit and Donald was able to bring some sense and understanding to the whole situation at a time we felt we didn't have any support. His dedication to truth and justice was a breath of fresh air to us and we will never forget him for that. We will miss his seemingly endless stories (in number and duration) about anything and everything. Our thoughts are with Leslie and the rest of the family during this difficult time.
Scott Thompson
Friend
January 18, 2021
Father of the bride, Julie
Julie Connery-Smith
Daughter
January 18, 2021
Julie Connery-Smith
Daughter
January 18, 2021
One of many trips
Julie Connery-Smith
Daughter
January 18, 2021
I am forever grateful to Donald for helping gain release of my husband from prison in 2009 after he was wrongfully convicted . It was Donald who picked up the phone one Day from a total stranger and listened to me and drove in the snow the following Day to meet me and review the case. He assisted with getting us a new trial , new out of state lawyers both in CT and RI.He attended many a court hearing with us in RI. He contacted experts across the country in false confession cases And everything he did led to my husband coming home. He was such an amazing human being . I am forever grateful. My daughter was able to grow up with her father and now volunteers with the innocence project .


Audrey Curtis
Friend
January 17, 2021
Tyffany Connery
Grandchild
January 17, 2021
Tyffany Connery
Grandchild
January 17, 2021
Tyffany Connery
Grandchild
January 17, 2021
Tyffany Connery
Grandchild
January 17, 2021
Tyffany Connery
Grandchild
January 17, 2021
So sorry to hear we've lost Don. I enjoyed knowing him over the last 25 years or so, and he had a big influence on me, broadening my focus from the Richard Lapointe case to related miscarriages of justice, such as those stemming from false memories. Don lived a long and very full life, but, of course, that doesn't make his loss any easier to take. My deepest sympathies to Leslie and all the family.
Alex Wood
Friend
January 17, 2021
Carol Connery
Daughter
January 17, 2021
Carol Connery
Daughter
January 17, 2021
Carol Connery
Daughter
January 17, 2021
Carol Connery
Daughter
January 17, 2021
Carol Connery
Daughter
January 17, 2021
Carol Connery
Daughter
January 17, 2021
Carol Connery
Daughter
January 17, 2021
Carol Connery
Daughter
January 17, 2021
Carol Connery
Daughter
January 17, 2021
Carol Connery
Daughter
January 17, 2021
Donald and my late brother Al Lurie were editors of the Great Neck High school newspaper, "The Guide Post".They wrote numerous columns together and Al followed Don's career for years. Sorry for your loss.
David Lurie
Friend
January 16, 2021
Bruce Connery
Family
January 16, 2021
Bruce Connery
Family
January 16, 2021
Bruce Connery
Family
January 16, 2021
Bruce Connery
Family
January 16, 2021
Bruce Connery
Family
January 16, 2021
Bruce Connery
Family
January 16, 2021
Bruce Connery
Family
January 16, 2021
Bruce Connery
Family
January 16, 2021
Bruce Connery
Family
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Bruce Connery
Family
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Bruce Connery
Family
January 16, 2021
Bruce Connery
Family
January 16, 2021
Bruce Connery
Family
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Bruce Connery
Family
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Bruce Connery
Family
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Bruce Connery
Family
January 16, 2021
Bruce Connery
Family
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Bruce Connery
Family
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Bruce Connery
Family
January 16, 2021
Bruce Connery
Family
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Bruce Connery
Family
January 16, 2021
Bruce Connery
Family
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Bruce Connery
Family
January 16, 2021
Bruce Connery
Family
January 16, 2021
Bruce Connery
Family
January 16, 2021
Bruce Connery
Family
January 16, 2021
Bruce Connery
Family
January 16, 2021
Bruce Connery
Family
January 16, 2021
Bruce Connery
Family
January 16, 2021
Bruce Connery
Family
January 16, 2021
Bruce Connery
Family
January 16, 2021
Bruce Connery
Family
January 16, 2021
Bruce Connery
Family
January 16, 2021
Bruce Connery
Family
January 16, 2021
Bruce Connery
Family
January 16, 2021
Bruce Connery
Family
January 16, 2021
Bruce Connery
Family
January 16, 2021
Bruce Connery
Family
January 16, 2021
Bruce Connery
Family
January 16, 2021
Bruce Connery
Family
January 16, 2021
Bruce Connery
Family
January 16, 2021
Bruce Connery
Family
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