Dr. Stewart "Mac" McConnell of College Station, Texas, went home to his Lord on December 4, 2013, at the age of 90. He was born on April 25, 1923, in El Paso, Texas. Visitation is scheduled for Sunday, December 8, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Memorial Funeral Chapel in College Station. The Funeral Service will be held on 3 p.m. Monday, December 9 at A&M United Methodist Church in College Station.
Stewart was the youngest child of Ross Wilson McConnell Sr. and Estella (Falco) McConnell. Orphaned at an early age, he grew up at St. Margaret's Orphanage and the Rio Vista Farm and graduated from Ysleta High School in 1940. He enlisted in the Army Air Corps in May 1941 and was a veteran of World War II. As a member of the "Mighty 95th Bomb Group," 335th Squadron he flew 30 missions in a B-17, primarily as a toggelier (bombardier), and was a recipient of the Purple Heart.
After the war he attended Texas A&M University (Class of '49), graduating as a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine in June 1950. He re-entered the military as a commissioned officer in the Army Veterinary Corps in 1951. With an interest in research, he received a Master of Science degree from The Ohio State University and later served at Walter Reed Army Institute of Research; La Paz, Bolivia; and Fort Detrick, Maryland. Sent to La Paz as an advisor to the Bolivian Government, he helped establish vaccine production capabilities and also played a significant role in identifying and controlling an outbreak of Bolivian hemorrhagic fever in the mid-1960s. At Ft. Detrick he conducted research related to vaccine development and prevention of animal disease.
Dr. McConnell retired from the Army in 1968 with the rank of Lt. Colonel and joined the faculty in the Department of Veterinary Microbiology and Parasitology at Texas A&M University's College of Veterinary Medicine. He authored numerous scientific papers related to animal diseases such as equine infectious anemia, pseudorabies, and bluetongue virus, and was active in professional societies, including the U. S. Animal Health Association and the American College of Veterinary Preventive Medicine. He was a gifted but demanding teacher, a creative and independent-thinking scientist, and a mentor to numerous graduate students and young researchers. He retired from Texas A&M University in 1985 as Professor Emeritus. Following retirement, he continued his interest in research as a consultant, both domestically and internationally.
Mac was an avid golfer, enjoyed working at his small farm in Brazos County, and was a faithful follower of Aggie sports.
In April 1949, he married the love of his life, Willie Mae (Jeffries) McConnell. Their 64-year marriage was filled with love, adventure, hard work, joy, and devotion to each other and their family. He will forever be remembered and cherished as a loving husband, father, granddad, and friend.
He was preceded in death by his parents; brothers Ross Wilson Jr., Joseph, Allen, Lawrence, and Dyer; sisters Agnes Crane and Marcella McConnell; and infant daughter Dawn.
He is survived by his wife Willie; son William and wife Melissa McConnell of College Station TX; daughters Judith McConnell of Denton TX and Laura Weber of Houston TX; his grandchildren Joshua McGuire and wife Lauren of College Station TX, Caitlin McConnell of Astoria NY, and Taylor and Devon Weber of Houston TX; his sister-in-law Judy Choat and husband James of Carrolton TX; and numerous nieces and nephews.
Mac loved his family, Texas A&M, and his country because, as he said, "Where else could an orphan boy grow up to be an officer in the military and even a professor at a great university?"
In honor of Dr. Stewart McConnell, memorials may be made to the 95th Bomb Group Memorials Foundation, c/o Treasurer Nancy Freemantle, P.O. Box 6154, Eureka CA 95502 (http://95thbg.org/95th_joomla/