Patricia McConnell

27 Jul 2020 | 11:30

Patricia McConnell was born on Jan. 19, 1940, at St. Anthony Community Hospital, the daughter of Alfred and Anne Roy of Pine Island.

She grew up on her family’s dairy farm, gaining early in her life a love and appreciation for the animals, wildlife, farms and lands in and around the Town of Warwick. As a young girl, she and her sister rescued salamanders from a cellar window well in the family home releasing them near the Pochuck River. Later, she ensured that the same riverside land would be preserved in perpetuity with a gift to the Orange County Land Trust.

After graduating from Warwick Valley High School in 1957, Pat attended Plattsburgh State University, earning a B.S. in Education with a Major in Nursing. She trained in several hospitals in New York City for her RN but it was at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center that she met Dr. David J. McConnell and they married on June 22, 1963, at Christ Church in Warwick.

Pat left nursing to raise her children and then in 1973, the family moved back to Warwick. She joined the Town of Warwick’s Conservation Board, taking on the role of chairman in 1974. The board subsequently researched and produced the “Open Space Inventory and Index,” a comprehensive survey with detailed maps and overlays of the town lands including wetlands, farms, existing open space, planned developments and more.

She joined the NYS Association of Conservation Commissions and served as president from 1979-1989.

In 1977, she was the Warwick Jaycee’s Citizen of the Year and in 1990, she was the New York State recipient of the first national Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Award by President George H. W. Bush.

She was also instrumental in getting the Penaluna toxic waste landfill closed, a successful ban on mining for radioactive materials in the town and the introduction of the concept of PDR (Purchase of Development Rights) to Warwick.

In 1985, Pat graduated from Ramapo College with a degree in Environmental Studies after which she taught as an adjunct professor at the college and co-led student trips to the tropical rain forest preserves of Costa Rica.

Along with several other Ramapo professors, she created a college textbook on environmental studies in 1991 which was among the first to identify climate change as a serious threat.

In 1999, Pat began volunteering in the archives of the Warwick Valley Historical Society. She was president from 2009-2012 and oversaw the historic moving of the Union AME church and the purchase of the old Albert Wisner Library to be used as the new permanent home for WHS’ extensive collection of archival documents and artifacts. Her most recent project was the organization and cataloging of a large collection of ancient Native American arrowheads donated by the Jack Webster family.

Pat was a fierce and passionate advocate for everyone and everything she loved - family, friends, her community and the environment. She passed away on July 21 and will be deeply missed by all who knew her.

She is survived by her husband David, and children Heather McConnell and Thomas McConnell, Tom’s wife Rachel Barbour, and grandchildren Leo, Matthew and Sarah.

The family extends our deepest gratitude to everyone at St. Anthony Community Hospital in Warwick and Good Samaritan Hospital in Suffern, Akin’s Pharmacy, and many other caregivers who helped Pat live her best life.

Due to current COVID-19 restrictions, a memorial service at Christ Church will be held at a later date. Her remains will be interred in the Cremation Garden in the Columbarium at the Warwick Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers or other gifts, please consider making a memorial donation to the Orange County Land Trust (www.oclt.org) or the Warwick Valley Historical Society (www.whsny.org).

Arrangements were made by Lazear-Smith & Vander Plaat Memorial Home, 17 Oakland Ave., Warwick. To send an online condolence, visit www.lsvpmemorialhome.com.