Randy Thorne McConnell, scientist, husband, father, and friend, passed away peacefully at home in the early morning of Sunday, September 18, 2016, following a courageous battle with cancer. He was 66.Randy was born to Mary Lee and John Marshall McConnell in Mooresville, NC. His mother taught him piano at an early age. This was the beginning of an ongoing love for music, spanning many instruments and genres. Along with his brother and sisters, he shared responsibilities in the home and at church. With his father’s encouragement, he and his brother fearlessly took on progressively more ambitious projects, from building model airplanes, to scrap metal go-karts, to a full-on airplane.Randy graduated from Mooresville High School and earned a B.S. from Duke University in 1972 and a M.S. from NC State University in 1977. He began his career as a biochemist at Burroughs Wellcome and continued in pharmaceutical discovery research until his retirement from GlaxoSmithKline in 2005.Randy was a loyal, spirited, and loving husband to Eleanor Schildwachter (Ellie) McConnell, whom he met at Duke University and married on September 10, 1977. They enjoyed 39 years of love, adventure, and devotion through their marriage.Randy was an amazing father to Benjamin Thomas McConnell and Jessica McConnell Sands. The best teacher they ever had, he fostered his children’s interest in science and engineering. He also volunteered as a coach for several sports teams, taught them about sailing, gardening, flying, and so much more.Randy was artistic and musical, carving sculptures out of felled trees and improvising on the bass guitar to jazz music. He joined a jazz band in the 2000s and performed at local venues. Over the years, his talents, inquisitiveness, and self-reliance led him to build furniture, kayaks, and complete various home and garden projects. Even into his later years, he maintained an adventurous spirit, doing flips off the diving board at age 64, taking kite surfing lessons, and wakeboarding in between chemo cycles.Overall, he was a truly kind man with utmost rigor who loved to see the people around him smile.Randy is survived by his wife Ellie, children Ben and Jess, sisters Tharon McConnell Kirk and Marilyn McConnell Matlock, and brother John Stanley McConnell.The family welcomes everyone to join them for a memorial service and celebration of his life, which will be held at 1:00 PM on Saturday, September 24, 2016, at the Washington Duke Inn on the President’s Terrace. A family graveside service will be held in Oakland, Maryland.Those wishing to make contributions in Randy’s memory are encouraged to donate to:Orange County Habitat for Humanitywww.orangehabitat.org/give
Durham Rescue Missionhttps://www.durhamrescuemission.org/donation/
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Duke Cancer Institute - Supporting the research efforts of Dr. Hope UronisC/o Annette Henderson710 W Main St, Ste 200, Durham, NC 27701WNCU Jazz Radio
Walker's Funeral Home of Hillsborough is honored to be serving the McConnell family. Online condolences may be offered atwww.walkersfuneralservice.com