Robert LaRue Connelly Jr., born July 17, 1947 to Thelma Hovey Connelly and Robert LaRue Connelly Sr., passed away on July 7, 2022. Bob will be remembered as a loving husband, father, grandfather, brother, son, and uncle and as a trusted and faithful friend to many. Bob grew up in East Brunswick, NJ and proudly wore a t-shirt that proclaimed “East Brunswick, it’s where it all began.” After graduation from East Brunswick High School in 1965, Bob was encouraged by a family friend to look into Arizona State College in Flagstaff. He took the leap of faith, enrolled in the fall of 1965, and his dreams took off.
ASC became Northern Arizona University in 1966, and as the school underwent their transformation, so did Bob’s academic aspirations. He initially enrolled as an Accounting Major, but a new challenge greeted him when he was introduced to the first of many political science classes, and he found his academic love. Classes taught by the esteemed professor Dr. Elden G. Bowman, PhD, and the discussions that ensued at the small group classes at Dr. Bowman’s home and during walks with him through the NAU campus, sparked a deep and life-long curiosity about the Constitution, the law and their impact on the political system. Bob’s own ambitions were not in politics but were beginning to focus on the possibility of a law degree. That interest pushed him to take the LSAT and to be accepted into the Law School at the University of Arizona. His pursuit of a law degree was not to be, however, as life interceded, but his passion for the disciplines of the law and the principles of the Constitution never left him.
His greater love also began at NAU, when Bob met a young woman, Christine (Tina) Byrne. Tina had grown up in Arizona, moved to Texas after high school, but decided to return to Arizona for college at NAU. She and Bob were introduced by a mutual friend, and two years later, were married at the Neuman Center chapel on the NAU campus. Bob graduated from NAU, the couple moved to Ft. Wayne, Indiana, and welcomed a daughter, Kimberly Erin, in 1969.
Bob enjoyed great success in his career, even though not in the law. His career in the telecommunications industry began at GTE and his success as a top salesperson led to a promotion to Sales Manager in a short time. Bob and Tina lived in Indiana for almost 10 years, then moved to South Carolina and Florida as career moves dictated. After 17 years away from Arizona, Bob had an opportunity to return to the Phoenix area in 1985. Bob’s greatest joys came with spending time with his family, and most especially, his three grandchildren, Lauren, Kyle and Madelynn. He was their No. 1 fan through many years of softball, Little League baseball, basketball, cross country and track, dance, chorus, and all their many other interests. A lifelong baseball fan, he offered his coaching advise often. Bob was a NY Yankee fan since he could say “baseball”, but when offered a chance to become an inaugural AZ Diamondback season ticket holder in 1998, he split his allegiance. And he was exuberant at the 2001 World Series, loudly cheering on the eventual winner, the Diamondbacks.
Bob was predeceased by his parents, Bob and Thelma Connelly, and his sister Eileen Martynovych. He is survived by his wife, Tina, his daughter Kim Shirley (Michael), grandchildren Lauren, Kyle and Madelynn Shirley, his sister Beverly Connelly, brother Wayne Connelly, cherished friends Rich Chlan and Tom Wells, nieces, nephews, and many, many friends.
Bob was taken from us much too soon, the victim of Alzheimer’s disease. But his Alzheimer’s journey taught those around him the values of patience and endurance, and above all, the indescribable gift of unconditional love. A private family service will be held, with a Celebration of Life to be held at a later date to be announced. Tribute donations to the Desert Southwest Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association are appreciated.