William Cameron McConnell, Jr.
William Cameron McConnell, Jr., passed away peacefully at home on Friday, February 24 at the age of 92 after a decade-long battle with Alzheimer's. He was surrounded by his loved ones in Sanibel, Fla.
Bill was born on August 13, 1924, in Massillon, Ohio, the son of Florence Cabbut and William Cameron McConnell, Sr. He graduated from Massillon High School in 1942 and enrolled in the University of Michigan's Navy ROTC program, majoring in Naval Engineering. He was a true Wolverine, serving as president of the Delta Tau Delta Fraternity, a member of the Vulcan Senior Engineering Society and a teammate on the Men's Varsity Track team. As the anchor on the final leg of the mile relay team, Bill was instrumental in bringing home the 1944 Big Ten Team Championship, earning him a place in the exclusive M Club. Bill served as a Lieutenant in the U.S. Navy aboard the destroyer USS Douglas H. Fox during World War II.
Bill's engineering career began in Detroit as a Sales Engineer for Reliance Electric. In 1960, he left Reliance to become COO of the Louis Allis Company in Milwaukee, Wis. In 1968, Bill founded Electric Apparatus Corporation, Howell, Mich. which manufactured the well-known Howell Red Band Motors. After selling Electric Apparatus, his entrepreneurial spirit continued and he started Var Controls, Inc., in Whitmore Lake, Mich., where he designed and manufactured electrical power factor correction and harmonic filtration systems until his retirement in 2008.
His time in the Navy cemented his love for the ocean. In 1951, a visit to Chatham with his new bride, Patricia Rae Kell, built a lifetime of summer memories for himself and his family lasting 65 years. He loved nothing more than sailing in his Marshall catboat on Nantucket Sound, picnicking at the Outer Beach, and fishing with family and friends. Many friendships were formed at the Chatham Beach and Tennis Club and Eastward Ho! Country Club. If he wasn't on the water in Chatham or working in his plant in Michigan, Bill was either mowing the fields of the family's 98-acre farm on his beloved Ford 2000 tractor or working on his model railroad layout - a lifelong hobby that fostered his creative spirit throughout the varying stages of Alzheimer's.
Patricia Rae McConnell, his wife of 65 years, survives him as do his children: William C. McConnell III of Hamburg, Mich.; Megan McConnell of Lafayette, Colo.; Catherine McConnell (Tim Bailey) of Chatham; and Cameron (Mark) Sperry of Sanibel, Fla., and his 4 grandchildren: Annie (Kevin) Hunter of Boulder, Colo.; Cameron Mayo of Hong Kong; Henry Bailey and William Bailey of Chatham. He was predeceased by his son Bruce Cabbut McConnell in 2008.