Patricia May Connell
Patricia May (Smith) Connell, 95, of La Crosse passed away peacefully at her home Friday, Oct. 2, 2020, surrounded by loving family members.
She was born in La Crosse, May 4, 1925, to Burton and Erma (Newcomb) Smith, the second of eight children. Her father was a well-known teacher at Logan High School from 1928 to 1963. Patricia attended Roosevelt Elementary School and Logan High School, graduating in 1942, as class salutatorian and receiving the John E. Bird Award for outstanding scholastic and extracurricular work. After high school she attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she graduated in 1948 with a degree in pharmacy.
In 1949 she married Clayton Connell of La Crosse and to this union were born 11 children. The early years of their marriage were spent in Michigan, while Clayton attended Michigan State University, followed by a civil engineering job in Flint, Mich., during which time Patricia worked part-time as a pharmacist in drugstores. They returned to La Crosse in 1956, after which Patricia continued to raise her family while working part-time as a pharmacist at Berg's Pharmacy and other local drugstores. La Crosse would remain her home the rest of her life except for a few years in the late 1960s when the family resided in Kenosha, Wis., and Burlington, Wis.
In 1970 she began working full-time as a pharmacist at the Lutheran Hospital Pharmacy in La Crosse, while also working part-time at local and area drugstores as a pharmacist. She retired from Lutheran in 1990, though for some time afterwards she continued to do pharmacy work at local and area drugstores and the St. Clare Health Mission.
During her early retirement years Patricia was an active community volunteer in addition to her pharmacist work. She took an active part in Monday's Meals, when the event took place at her family church, St. Luke's Methodist Church on Caledonia Street. For many years she was a member of the Friends of the La Crosse Public Library and did much work with the library bookstore and book sales. She also volunteered at WAFER and with Meals on Wheels.
On May 12, 2013, she was featured in a La Crosse Tribune Mother's Day article in which her advice to parents was, "Just be patient. Be happy. Enjoy the kids."
In her leisure time, Patricia enjoyed reading, listening to Dean Martin songs, doing jigsaw puzzles, visiting area casinos, hunting for treasures at local thrift stores and spending time at her summer home overlooking Lake Pepin near Pepin, Wis., where she could often be found looking for agates on the lake-shore. She was also an avid fan of Badgers football and for many years in her retirement she had season tickets and attended games at Camp Randall, with family and friends. In her later years she was an active user of an iPad, using the device to keep in touch with family and friends via Facebook and Zoom and playing card games and Words with Friends.
Her family was her pride and joy as she served as a beacon of light to all with her kindness, warmth, humor and caring compassion. She had a gift of making everyone, young and old, feel special. She will be greatly missed and memories of her will carry on.
She is survived by her children, Douglas of La Crosse, Marilyn of Milwaukee, Kathleen (Kenneth) Wales of Elkhorn, Wis., Michael (Patricia) of La Crosse, Brian of Galesville, Thomas of Sparta, Sharon (Doug) Erler of Pepin, Jacqui Wiltinger of Anoka, Minn., and Mary (Tom) Schneller of Portage, Wis. She is further survived by three sisters, Grace Jensen of Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, Jackie Norvell of Pepin, and Margaret (Jerry) Pok of West Bend, Wis.; one brother, David (Jane) of Pepin; two sisters-in-law, Linda Smith of Bloomer, Wis., and Shirley Smith of Naples, Fla.; 18 grandchildren; 24 great-grandchildren; as well as many nieces, nephews, relatives and friends.
Patricia was preceded in death by her parents; her husband, Clayton; her daughter, Nancy; her son, Randy; her brothers, Robert and Daniel; her sister, Mary (Jerry) Johnson; along with many other relatives and dear friends.
A celebration of Patricia's life will be held Saturday, Oct. 10, at Dickinson Family Funeral Home, 1425 Jackson St., with visitation from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. noon, followed by private family services. Social distancing guidelines will be in effect and face masks required. A video link to the memorial service will be available, to view please contact the family.
A private family burial will be held in the future at Riverside Cemetery near Genoa.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be given to the Burton Smith Scholarship Fund at La Crosse Community Foundation: www.laxcommfoundation.com/give/browse-our-funds/burton-c-smith-scholarship/
The family wishes to thank Gundersen Hospice for their care and comfort given to Patricia during her last days.
Online condolences may be offered at www.dickinsonfuneralhome.com.