Michael Joseph Connolly, formerly of Ocala and On Top of the World, died peaceably while sitting in the morning sun in hospice at Auberge at Vintage Lake in Houston, Texas on 1 November 2019, three weeks shy of his 90th birthday.
Born and raised in Queens, New York, Mike joined the U.S. Army immediately following high school and served as a non-commissioned officer with the 505th Airborne Infantry Regiment of the 82nd Airborne Division from 1949-1952. A graduate of U.S. Army airborne, rigger, and glider schools, Mike attended the Armed Forces Information School as a Public Information Officer, and later served as Assistant Editor of the ‘Static Line,’ the 505th Airborne Infantry regimental newspaper.
In October 1952, Mike joined the IBM Corporation as a customer engineer, assigned to Manhattan, New York, and went on to serve thirty-three years with the company. After a succession of promotions to engineering territorial supervisor and field manager in Newark, New Jersey, in 1960 Mike was promoted to field associate engineer and assigned to the newly-opened SELECTRIC typewriter assembly plant in Lexington, Kentucky. Over the following two decades he held a variety of positions, rising to become superintendent of manufacturing.
With the entry of IBM into the desktop computer field in the early 1980’s, Mike transferred to Boca Raton, Florida, where he served as superintendent of printer and card manufacturing. He retired from IBM in 1985, and joined the SCI Corporation, a leading desktop computer circuit board manufacturer, as a Vice President in Arab, Alabama. During his tenure at SCI the National Management Association bestowed on Mike its ‘Silver Knight of Management’ award, one of its highest honors for management executives.
A volunteer firefighter for over sixty years, beginning with his service as a smokejumper while in the military, Mike began his career with the Levittown Volunteer Fire Department on Long Island, New York. He later served with the Lexington Fire Department in Lexington, Kentucky for over twenty years, where he rose to the rank of Chief of the Volunteers. In recognition of his leadership, Mike was commissioned as a ‘Kentucky Colonel’ by Governor Martha Layne Collins. During his twenty-seven years in Ocala, Florida, Mike was a member of the Marion County Fire Rescue Friendship Station 21, where he held positions as the Station Chief and as the District Battalion Chief for Volunteers.
An avid reader of military history, particularly World War II, Mike was a member of the Ocala chapter of the 82nd Airborne Division Association and attended many of its conventions.
Mike’s wife of sixty-six years, Joan Marilyn Connolly, died in December 2016.
He is survived by his son, Timothy George Connolly of Madison, Wisconsin; and daughters, Colleen C. Locker (Stuart) of Houston, Texas and Maureen C. Olson (Peter) of Sheridan, Wyoming. He is survived as well by four grandchildren, Kelly Moran (Ryan), Kristin Frank (David), Kelsey Amaya (Rey), and Peter Olson; and two great-grandchildren, Remington Amaya and Raleigh Frank.