Carol McDonald Connor
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1953 - 2020
Dr. Carol Connor, 67, of Irvine, CA, passed away peacefully in her home on May 14, 2020, after a valiant battle with ovarian cancer.

Dr. Connor was a Chancellor's Professor at the University of California, Irvine School of Education. She was a respected trailblazer in early childhood education and the science of reading. Dr. Connor's mission was to have every child reading at or above grade level by the end of 3rd grade. Based on thousands of hours of classroom observation, she invented A2i-a technology that supports teachers across the country in achieving transformative reading results for their students. A2i provides a rigorously researched, unique approach to instruction, which dramatically increases student literacy achievement. It gave Carol the most joy that teachers saw unprecedented results when her technology was applied in high-need settings. Her work represents a major equity breakthrough as it has the potential for stopping the Achievement Gap at 3rd Grade.

Dr. Connor won numerous awards including the Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers presented by President George W. Bush in 2006. She held appointments at top universities and was principal investigator for studies funded by the US Department of Education, the Institute for Education Sciences, and the National Institute for Child Health and Human Development.

Carol was born on February 21, 1953, to Leo and Ann-Eve McDonald in Chicago, IL.

She is survived by her mother, Ann-Eve McDonald, the love-of-her-life and husband, Joseph (Jay) Connor, along with their children, Jessica and Bill Hudak, Kerianne and Nick Lentz, and Patrick and Sarika Connor. And their grandchildren: Josephine, Lillian, Jacob, and Wyatt.
Carol is also survived by her siblings: Lianne Mech, John McDonald, Kate Sergeant and their spouses and children as well as her beloved dog, Tally. She was preceded in death by her father, Leo McDonald.
Even with Dr. Connor's illustrious career, family was most important to her. Carol and her husband Jay celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary in October. For the past 26 years they spent every summer with their family at their cabin in Lake Arrowhead, CA. Another place that was near to her heart was Captiva Island in FL, which she visited every year since she was a little girl.

Due to the current pandemic and for everyone's safety, Carol's life will be celebrated on May 21st by a small gathering of immediate family. This fall or early next year, when it is safe to gather, a celebration of life will be held with her family, friends, and colleagues from around the world.

Carol's legacy will live on in the hearts and minds of all she interacted with as well as those she reached, but never met. In lieu of flowers, the family established a fund to honor Carol's passion for educational research, teacher support, and children's reading success.

The Dr. Carol Connor Fund:

https://charitableventuresoc.kindful.com/?campaign=1068639

Help keep her life's work top-of-mind by continuing to demand improvement on literacy outcomes for all our young students.

To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in New York Times from May 20 to May 21, 2020.
MEMORIES & CONDOLENCES
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21 entries
May 30, 2020
Among the many things we did together, organizing and holding an Extraordinary Brain Symposium on Reading Intervention, held in the Azores, stands out as one of the best. Here are Jay and Carol on that trip... I miss her very deeply.
Peggy McCardle
May 30, 2020
Peggy McCardle
Friend
May 30, 2020
Carol was a wonderful researcher and colleague. She did a huge amount for the Society for the Scientific Study of Reading (SSSR). She served as treasurer for a very long time and managed that organization's finances extremely well. I was looking forward to seeing her become President of SSSR. She loved academia. She clearly dearly loved her family, her work, and her friends. She is someone who I think did not waste a single second of her life. She lived it all to the fullest.
Cammie McBride
Coworker
May 29, 2020
Carol was a spirited force for good in our literacy field and in the world. I always looked forward to seeing her at conferences and hearing about her latest impressive - work. It is so hard to believe that her presence will now be missing from those gatherings.
Margaret McKeown
May 27, 2020
Many moons ago several of us Moms decided we'd had enough of watching our daughters pay soccer. We formed a team and started playing at an indoor soccer facility. Carol and I were part of that team for many years. So many funny and happy times. I reconnected with Carol a few years ago as out lives crossed paths in an unexpected way. I am sad and we are all diminished by her passing way too soon.
Elaine Brock
Friend
May 26, 2020
My husband and I are neighbors of Carol and her husband, Jay. She always had a smile on her face, even when facing such a tough illness. We will remember her kindness and indomitable spirit.
Christine Marx and Ken Simons
Neighbor
May 26, 2020
I am so saddened to learn about Carol's passing and send my deepest condolences to Jay and the rest of her family. I worked for Carol in her research lab while she was at Arizona State University. I learned so much about reading and literacy for young children in general. I respected her advanced knowledge and work in this field and she was quick to make sure that everyone felt included in and understood the work we were doing, even those of us without advanced degrees. Carol and Jay hosted the best lab parties and were always so kind and generous. Carol made it possible for us to experience the world of academia and research in early childhood education and to see how important individualized instruction is for reading success and growth-I only wish I had known about A2i when I was teaching. Thank you Carol for everything.
Julie Fellows
Coworker
May 25, 2020
My condolences to her loved ones. I was shocked to hear about her passing. I had the opportunity to work with Carol at ASU. She was so dedicated in contributing to education. I was honored to work with her and her amazing team.
Ivette Romero
Coworker
May 24, 2020
Group of 10 Memorial Trees
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Mark Walter
May 24, 2020
Carol was a wonderful person, friend, and scholar. Her death comes as a terrible shock. She will be remembered fondly.
David Uttal
Friend
May 24, 2020
I feel so blessed to have reconnected with Carol after the death of her father and my uncle, Leo several years ago. Her strength and positivity are qualities that she possessed up until the very end. I have such wonderful memories of Carol from our childhood summers at Lake Wissota. I will hold onto them. Love and condolences go out to her entire family during this incredibly difficult time.
Susan McDonald Lenihan
Susan McDonald Lenihan
Family
May 22, 2020
Memories of Carol will always be of her brilliance, contributions to education and her beautiful smile. Such an amazing person- she will be greatly missed. Prayers for her family for peace and strength during this time .
Kathy Donk
Friend
May 21, 2020
I know that even though you have a loss, you still have some great memories. I hope those memories will give you comfort in knowing God is with you and your family lean on him in your time of sorrow.
Simone Taylor
May 21, 2020
Carol was a great mentor to me, always encouraging, in her inimitably good-humored way. She had immense integrity and ambition in her research; she will be sorely missed in the reading research community.
Jennifer Cromley
May 21, 2020
Carol was a wonderful friend and colleague. I feel heartened that she was able to have family around her as you guys remained her priority. She always had a special smile on her face when talking about her family! I will keep you in my prayers. I'm going to miss her. She was a very thoughtful scholar and generous mentor.
Stephanie Otaiba
Friend
May 21, 2020
Carol was my colleague, collaborator, and friend. I am privileged to have known her and worked with her. She was kind, giving, strong, and humble. I'll miss her terribly and remember her always as a bright light.
Danielle McNamara
Friend
May 21, 2020
As her Mom I have innumerable memories, all precious. One is all the Christmas Eves we spent together. Wrapping presents and being Santa. We were up until 1:00 am playing our part. Then up at 6:00 seeing the joy.
Ann-Eve McDonald
Daughter
May 21, 2020
My beloved daughter who was best friend as well as daughter.
Ann-Eve McDonald
Daughter
May 20, 2020
Carol was special. She was one of my top doctoral students and it was an honor to supervise her doctorate, and mentor her early academic career. Such a loss. My sympathy to Jay and her family.
Holly Craig
Teacher
May 20, 2020
Carol & Jay will always hold a special place in my heart. We will miss you Carol! ❤
Brandy Gatlin-Nash
Friend
May 20, 2020
Carol befriended me during sorority recruitment and welcomed me as a roommate in my first year of college. She was always a warm and treasured friend and a brilliant scholar. Carol and Jay were gallant hosts and a perfect couple.
Betty Olivera
Friend
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