Jennifer O’Connell Connelly, 51

Wed, 04/25/2012 - 1:19pm

Jennifer O’Connell Connelly, of Westport, Conn., passed away in her sleep in the early morning hours of April 1. She never conceded her brave battle with ovarian cancer, but when modern medicine failed, even her indefatigable spirit was not enough to help her continue the struggle.

Jen’s extended family has had homes on Block Island since the 1960s, and she, her sister and cousins all had summer jobs on the island. But it wasn’t until her family purchased a house near Mansion Beach that she felt she was a real part of the island. Every summer she and her family have gathered there to do all those wonderful things that make Block Island such a special place.

Jen was born in Cleveland, Ohio, but raised in Woodstock and Hartland 4 Corners, Vt. She attended elementary and junior high school in Woodstock before going on to boarding school at Dana Hall in Wellesley, Mass., Hawaii Preparatory Academy, and The Mountain School in Vershire, Vt, from which she graduated in 1979. She graduated from Hampshire College in Amherst, Mass., in 1984. She later earned a Masters Degree in American Studies from Columbia University in 1987.

Jen worked for a number of years in New York City, where her career included positions with Lord & Taylor as a buyer, with Harper’s Bazaar as an accessories editor, and with Columbia Grammar and Preparatory School as an admissions officer and second grade teacher.

In 1991 she married Mark Connelly, a Georgetown graduate and Cape Cod native.

In 1993 they moved to Westport, Conn., where they raised two wonderful boys, Dylan, 18, and Ian, 13. Being their mother was her life’s vocation and greatest joy.

She is survived by her loving husband and her two sons, of Westport, Conn.; her sister Elizabeth Gunn Potter, of Bozeman, Mont., and her parents, Carol and Charles Cushman, of Hartland 4 Corners, Vt.

A celebration of Jen’s life was held at Greenfield Hills Congregational Church in Fairfield, Conn. on April 14. In lieu of flowers, she asked that donations be made to the Block Island Conservancy specifically to support the purchase of the Solviken Property on Block Island. The Block Island Conservancy can be reached at, or at Block Island Conservancy, P.O. Box 84, Block Island, RI 02807.

It is because of Jen’s special connection to Block Island that she asked that her ashes be interred there and that any donations be made to the BIC. She will now be a part of the island she so loved.