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Dr. Frances Partridge Connor

Dr. Frances Partridge Connor

AGE: 95 • Boca Raton, FL.

Dr. Frances Partridge Connor, Professor Emeritus of Education at Teacher's College, Columbia University, died on March 28, 2015 at her home in Boca Raton, FL. She was 95. Dr. Connor was the head of the Department of Special Education at Teacher's College (TC) for 23 years, from 1966-1989. She was also Director of the Special Education Research and Demonstration Center, and responsible for a multi-million dollar grant which allowed Teacher's College to construct the four story campus building, Thorndike Hall. Under her leadership, TC's Department of Special Education enrolled the largest number of graduate students in the nation in the 1980s. Dr. Connor's association with TC began in 1949 with the award of her Master's degree and subsequently with her Doctorate in 1953. She taught children with Cerebral Palsy in Suffern, NY and children with physical disabilities at the New York Rehabilitation Hospital in West Haverstraw, New York. After serving as a Research Associate for the Department of Education in Washington DC and as a Research Associate for the New York State Department of Mental Hygiene, she joined the TC Faculty and rose through the ranks quickly. She also taught at Hunter College's graduate program for several years. Dr. Connor was a sought after special education speaker and consultant, giving hundreds of speeches on educational issues, and consulting on educational programs throughout the nation and in over 60 countries around the world. Her sabbatical years were spent teaching as part of intensive graduate teaching programs in foreign countries. During the memorable year of 1962 she consulted in over 18 countries around the world and even one weekend left after classes on Friday, spoke at Oxford University and was back in time to teach Monday classes at TC. Dr. Connor was politically active in both Albany and Washington D.C. working to create positive change for disabled children. She served as Chairperson of Governor Hugh Carey's Committee on the Handicapped and was a member of the five person committee which helped close the infamous Willowbrook State School. Her efforts over many years in the 60's and 70's were crucial in the passage of the national law to make mandatory the education of all handicapped children. She served for many years on the National Advisory Committee to the United States Office of Education (now the Department of Education) and was a member of the Steering Committee of the White House Conference on the Education of the Handicapped from 1975-1978. She was a member of the Board of Trustees of Mt. St. Mary College, Newberry, NY from 1970 until her death. She was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from New Rochelle College. Her work for the Counsel for Exceptional Children (the largest professional organization on behalf of children with special needs) led to her presiding over the group in 1963 and 1964, to her being awarded The Best Contribution Award, and the J.E. Wallace Wallin Lifetime Achievement Award. She was also an officer and member of numerous other educational societies. Her extensive and notable research publications and writings are too numerous to name. Her contributions in education and advocacy have changed the world, and she will be remembered fondly by many. Frances Connor was predeceased by her loving husband of over 50 years, Dr. Leo Connor and two of her three sisters, Anne and Sybil. She is survived by her sister Katherine McIntyre of New York and many nieces and nephews.

A Mass of the Christian Burial will be celebrated at 9:30 A.M. on Friday, April 24, 2015 at St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church, 501 SW 3rd Ave, Boca Raton, FL 33432. Interment to follow at Boca Raton Mausoleum.

Published in Asbury Park Press on Apr. 11, 2015
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