Dr. Roger A. Connor, 99
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Dr. Roger A. Connor, a local dermatologist and longtime civic-minded resident of Pittsfield, passed away peacefully at a hospice facility near his home in Naples, Fla., on May 28, 2019. He was 99 years old, leaving behind an extended, multi-generational family who will continue to celebrate his life.
Roger, also affectionally known by his family as Rog or Boo and even "Roject" because of the endless household projects he would always undertake, was born January 21, 1920, in Suncook, N.H., the only son of Arthur and Angelique Morin Connor. Both his parents and four sisters — Dorothy, Dora, Pauline and Rita — all worked at the local textile mill, but matriarch Angelique had other plans for her beloved son. Roger was sent to Assumption Prep School in Worcester, Mass., graduating in 1938. The first in his family to attend college, he graduated from St. Anselm's in Manchester, N.H., in 1942. And finally, as an enlisted Navy man, Roger returned to his French-speaking roots to attend medical school at Laval University Faculte de Medecine in Quebec, Canada, graduating in 1946.
Note that Roger was an early pioneer in bilingual chic, in an era when success was very much spoken in English. Neither of his parents spoke a word of English, something that would eventually stump his children, as the entire community of Suncook was French Canadian and French speaking. Roger did not learn English until the ripe old age of 7, a fact that only became apparent when he was tired or unpleasantly surprised at something — and his intonation became decidedly French in nature.
After medical school, Roger did his internship at Mercy Hospital in Springfield, Mass, where, as fate would have it, he met his eventual wife, Mary Monahan, who had just finished her training as a registered nurse at the hospital. They were married October 4, 1947. at Holy Cross Church in Holyoke, Mass. Roger's naval obligations first took the growing young family to Camp LeJeune, N.C., and then west to Camp Pendleton, Calif., where he was attached to Company A 3 D Amphibian Tractor Troops, F.M. F. Pacific. Appropriately equipped with duck-boat training, the family headed back east to Boston, where Roger completed his residency at Boston City Hospital in dermatology, a much more predictably scheduled practice than OB/GYN, a specialty he had initially considered.
Once his residency was completed in 1956, the family — that now included four children with two yet to come — at last moved to Pittsfield, a city close to Roger and Mary's respective hometowns and anchored with a GE factory to insure a steady flow of patients for his newly opened private practice. His office was initially located at 74 North St., relocating in 1963 to the newly developed Doctors Park on South Street with a dozen or so colleagues in different specialties. A picture of these doctors hangs to this very day inside the entrance to Doctors Park.
Active in the local Berkshire community, Roger was a member of the New England Dermatological Association, the American Academy of Dermatology, the Pittsfield Rotary Club, and the Pittsfield Knights of Columbus. As part of his ongoing active duty status with the Navy, he conducted weekly medical exams of new enlistees at the Pittsfield armory. A quiet, humble man, Roger was reluctant to discuss his more heroic actions over the years — such as saving the life of a young boy choking on a hot dog by conducting an emergency tracheotomy. During his retirement, Roger continued to give back to the community by volunteering at the Senior Friendship Center, a free medical clinic for seniors in Naples, Fla.
For many years, Roger his family were active members of the Country Club of Pittsfield, where his daughter Kathleen currently serves on the board. He and Mary also made many trips overseas to Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia, often taking along their brood of six children and creating indelible memories for everyone. These trips, as well as decades of family events such as baptisms, first communions, graduations, weddings and backyard pool parties were beautifully captured by Roger on his 16 mm camera, as movie making was a passionate hobby of his. The resulting hours of film represent a true slice of Americana in the mid-20th century — the Great Generation enjoying life to the fullest after managing through the Depression and WW2.
In addition to his wife, Mary, Dr. Connor leaves behind his six children: Michael of Clemson, S.C., Kathleen Connor and her companion, Richard Avellone, of Pittsfield and Phoenix, Ariz., Marybeth Hamlin of Naples, Fla., Timothy and his companion Margaret Laude of St. Mary, Fla., Christopher and his wife Tracy of Gladstone, N.J., and Juno Beach, Fla., and Matthew of Hartsdale, N.Y. He also leaves six grandchildren, Meghan Connor Shelton of Charlotte, N.C., Patrick Hamlin of Tacoma, Wash., Christopher Connor of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., and Sean and Griffin Connor of New York City. Another grandson, Timothy Connor of Worcester, Mass., predeceased him in 2017. There are also three great-grandchildren whom Roger leaves behind: Connor, Emma and Finley Shelton. Lastly, Roger leaves his sister, Dorothy Connor Mulligan of Nashua, N.H.
He was predeceased by his other sisters, Dora Connor Parenteau, Rita Connor Courchesne, and Pauline Connor all of Suncook, N.H.
Funeral notice: The funeral for Dr. Roger A. Connor will be held on Wednesday, June 5, 2019, at 9 a.m. from the Roche Funeral Home followed by A Liturgy of Christian Burial at 10 a.m. at St. Ann's Church with Fr. Peter Gregory Officiating. Burial will follow in St. Ann Cemetery. Calling hours will be held on Tuesday, June 4, 2019, from 4 to 6 p.m.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you consider a donation in memory of Dr. Roger Connor to the Saint Anselm College general scholarship fund. Gifts may be made online at alumni.anselm.edu/giving or via check mailed to College Advancement, Saint Anselm College, 100 Saint Anselm Drive, Manchester, NH 03102.
Obituary Provided By: Roche Funeral Home