Monday, April 3, 2017

Mary Ann Connell "An Unforeseen Life: A Memoir"

Mary Ann was born in Louisville, Mississippi. Her parents were Bill and Danzey Strong. Bill was a highly regarded attorney, and Danzey was a math teacher during the Great Depression.

Mary Ann attended Louisville High School, where she served as the school’s first female president of the student body. She was also elected Miss LHS and Homecoming Queen her senior year (1957).
She then attended the University of Mississippi, where she was involved in a myriad of activities and leadership roles, serving as the secretary of the Associated Student Body, president of Chi Omega fraternity, and elected Miss Ole Miss in the fall of her senior year (1958). Following graduation, Mary Ann moved to Glendora, California, where she taught school briefly, and re-considered her engagement to Bill Connell.

On February 3, 1960, Mary Ann and Bill were married in Glendora at Grace Episcopal Church at 11:00 AM in the morning with Elsie and Bill Heaton, and Freemie and Bob Stone, in attendance.  She and Bill returned to Rena Lara, Mississippi, a small farming community outside of Clarksdale, Mississippi, where they started their life together as a young married couple. Bill farmed one of the Connell family’s concerns, and Mary Ann adjusted to life in the Mississippi Delta. The oldest of their four daughters, Elizabeth, was born during this time.

In 1965, Mary Ann and Bill moved to Oxford, where she obtained her master’s degree in history and wrote her thesis on the Peabody Hotel. Their second and third daughters, Stella and Mary Ann, were born in August 1968 and September 1969—a mere 13 months apart—and in 1972, while having contractions with their fourth daughter, Jane, Mary Ann took the LSAT.

Mary Ann graduated from the Ole Miss Law School in 1977 and went to work for Holcomb, Dunbar, Connell, Merkel, Tollison & Khayat as an associate attorney.

In late February 1982, Bill was diagnosed with an aggressive form of colon cancer that ultimately spread to his liver, and he died three months later on May 25.  Following Bill’s death, Mary Ann resigned her position with Holcomb, Dunbar, and assumed the role of university attorney for the University of Mississippi, replacing Tommy Ethridge. She held this position until June 30, 2003.

Following her retirement from the university, she associated with the Oxford law firm of Mayo Mallette as “Of Counsel,” and went to work with Cal Mayo and Pope Mallette.

In her book "An Unforeseen Life: A Memoir", Mary Ann’s story is a testament of achievement for women; of over-coming hardships, and rising to the occasion when life throws us challenges we never expect. It’s a book that demonstrates that we all have it in us to overcome difficult circumstances.

Mary Ann will have a book signing/talk in the Winston County Library meeting room on April 10, 2017 from 11:30 am til 1:00 pm.  Friends of the Library will provide free brown bag lunches for the first 30 participants.