Phillip McConnell

Profile Updated: September 3, 2017
Residing In Snohomish, WA USA
Spouse/Partner Cyndi Schaeffer
Occupation Retired (sort of)
Children Josh McConnell, born 1977
Ben Schaeffer-McConnell , born 1991
Andrew Schaeffer-McConnell, born More…1993
Yes! Attending Reunion

When I graduated from UNI in 1973, I moved to Washington State, where I have lived since. Early on I worked as a longshoreman, was involved in forest work, substitute taught, and worked for a small (two guys, including me) construction company. Then I was fortunate enough to stumble into what became my career passion, nonprofit organization leadership; working in various positions before serving executive director for an organization called Work Opportunities, helping people with disabilities find community employment in three counties in western Washington. I retired from this position one year ago but still have a very flexible consulting position with my former organization, and with two other local nonprofits. A second very part-time job I have had for the past 28 years is as an accreditation surveyor for CARF, a standards setting and accreditation organization for human services organizations. Besides this being a job that's up my alley, it also gives me the opportunity to travel to exotic places a few times per year. I usually choose Iowa.
I am married to Cyndi Schaeffer, who is Chief of Staff for Seattle/King County Dept. of Public Health; son Josh is a chef at a nice restaurant up near the Canadian border; son Ben helps build the 777's for the Boeing Airplane Company; son Andrew works for a nonprofit organization and is going to college. Josh and his spouse Kari gave us a beautiful red-headed granddaughter, Marley, who is nearly four.
We have a big flower and vegetable garden and spend a lot of time there. I hated gardening as a kid, but love it now. We have a place in Snohomish, WA and five rentals. Being a landlord is counter to my nature and we have lost money at it over the years. The good news, besides the incredible appreciation of property value in the PNW, is that we have accumulated some incredible experiences related to the rentals, many of which I've written up and fully expect to parlay into a major book deal. If the conversation with me gets slow at the reunion, ask me for the plot lines of a couple of chapters. Don't bother trying to stifle your yawns. I'm used to it. :-).

School Story

I have so many great memories of friends, classmates, and fun times or cool things that happened during our years at WHS. A few are:
- The announcements over the intercom, "Larry Warner, your car is on the sidewalk. Will you please remove it?" (Larry had that little Italian 3 wheeled Isetta at the time). So funny!
- When I was a senior I joined every club I could that went to a conference or anything off campus. I was a little bit out of my element in FBLA, by being elected president of the club. That meant I had to line up and introduce each monthly speaker at our luncheons at the Captains Table. Mr. Berdo, the club advisor, was very supportive and helpful. It was a great experience; one that gave me a skill which I have used throughout my life. I remember the FBLA state contest in Cedar Falls. My category was Extemporaneous Speaking, where you're given a topic and have 15 minutes to prepare a speech on the subject. My topic was "How Recent Scientific Breakthroughs Are Affecting Our Lives". I remember going through a litany of the many things that were happening on the scientific front and their implications for daily life, and ending the presentation with, "...and they still haven't found a cure for the common cold!" Here we are, 50 years later, and they still haven't!
- How at every school assembly, play, or event, someone in the event would cough and make the sound "Burge" while doing so, in honor of our esteemed Principle. it was disrespectful then and feels even moreso now, but it sure was funny and something in my opinion, that brought us together.
- Do you remember how, when we were seniors, there were 67's spray painted everywhere- on every sidewalk and overpass and grain bin around town? It got really out of hand, and Mr. Hammond called an assembly to put a stop to it. When he said what the assembly was about, he prefaced his remarks by apologizing for making everyone come in, because the perpetrators constituted "only 1/2 of 1% of our class". When it came time for Q&A, I pointed out that it was amazing if only 1/2 of 1% of our class were the perps, because that meant that all the vandalism was being done by 8/10 of a person. This drew a lot of laughter, and right or wrong, I always felt I was on Mr. Hammond's "list" for a long time after that.
- Remember Mr. (Harold) Stevens, the football coach/gym teacher before he was either terminated or made suitably uncomfortable that he moved on? I remember (I believe in 1964), being in Mr. Lawless' history class maybe when Mr. Stevens came to the classroom door, guitar in hand, and asked if he could come in and play something for us. Mr. Lawless agreed (Mr. Lawless was sophomore football coach at the time, so I think that may have something to do with Mr. Stevens' choice of classrooms in which to play). Anyway, his song was Bob Dylan's "Don't Think Twice, It's Alright" which had just been released the year before. He had personalized the song, adapting it to his situation, starting with," You're the reason that I'm movin' on, Burge!" It was an astounding thing. This was the first we heard that Mr. Stevens was being fired or squeezed out. I'm certain Mr. Hammond heard about it and soon after it was Coach Stevens out/Coach Harrington in. I was very disappointed Stevens left.
- Back then, of course, it was the beginning of the hair wars. Mr. Harrington revamped the whole gym class protocol where we wore uniforms and began every class by standing on our numbers, at attention, eyes straight ahead, etc.. He was "the enforcer" for the boys, and he told everyone they had to have their hair cut no longer than whatever. Steve Pettivino (RIP) didn't comply and after repeated warnings and him still showing up with long hair, Mr. Harrington put a collar and leash on him and took him to a couple of classrooms, saying, "look at my little dog here". Very humiliating for Steve; something that would invite lawsuits now but not then. I heard that Mr. Harrington's house was egged that night, but I don't know for sure. I do know that, for whatever reason (I'm guessing he was "called on the carpet"), he apologized to Steve the next day.
- We sure had many great teachers and I think it was a 1st class education, that served us well. I think all that diagramming sentences in Mr. Woodruff's class really helped us understand English. As a senior several of us would occasionally stop in and visit him at his home above the chicken hatchery to philosophize and smoke cigarettes with him. While I only had two years of French from Madame Waddell, I still remember many of the conversations we memorized and practiced, and to this day when I meet a French-speaking person, I am fully capable of commenting on what a beautiful day it is and inviting them to go skiing. La neige est magnifique aujourd'hui. Voulez-vous faire du ski? I've found it's a great ice breaker, regardless of the season. :-)
- One of the really cool things about that period of time was the music and the great radio stations (e.g. KIOA, WLS, and KAAY at night) As a senior, I was a finalist for a scholarship sponsored by the Farm Bureau. It was a cold day and I had to go in to Des Moines where they were interviewing the finalists. Four friends ( Larry Brinning, Denny Marek, Carl Wolf, and Steve Hardy (I think)) skipped school and rode to Des Moines with me and after the interview, we spent the day Ferris Buellering it around the cold streets of DM. We went outside the KIOA studio where they piped the show out onto the street. We pressed our faces against the glass and were trying to mess with the dj and he said something like, "ooohhhh alllriiight... it looks like we got some bad boys skippin' school and comin' into the capital city for some fun...!!! Hey bad boys, whadda you wanna hear". Larry Brinning, instantly realized that the easiest thing to sign with his fingers was DC5 which he quickly did and the dj yells, "bad boys want DC5 so..." bada da bada da bada da pop pop boom, "I'm in pieces, bits and pieces.. etc... " It was just that fast into the song. I remember jumping around laughing on the sidewalk, puffs of frozen breaths shooting out of our mouths as we sang along... Like Ferris' day, this was a beautiful day I'll always remember.
- Those were great years around the time we attended WHS. I often think about how lucky we were to live in those times- lots of decent employment, affordable and accessible education, affordable housing, pretty much universal health care. I think we almost took those things for granted; thinking that's the way it was and would always be. Now it's not how it is and those good things are out of the reach of many people. One of the things I strongly believe is that our generation, while we still can, need to do all the little things we can to make the opportunities we had to be available for our kids and grandkids and their generations.

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Nov 05, 2017 at 4:34 AM
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Sep 23, 2017 at 1:02 AM

Thanks for coming, Pat.

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Sep 23, 2017 at 12:50 AM
Phillip McConnell has left an In Memory comment for Dennis Marek.
Sep 03, 2017 at 4:34 AM

Here is something that I wrote up about Denny quite a while ago:

I came across a photo of me from the Washington Evening Journal, which is the most wholesome-looking picture of me in existence. I am young, with a winning smile, a 4-H shirt, and am leaning on one of my 4-H pigs. It brought back good memories. I had just won the Washington County 1967 Swine Showmanship Championship at the county fair. My good other-farm-kid friend, Denny Marek, had won the award the previous year and I had kidded him quite a bit about the honor and the trophy with the golden pig on top of it. He speculated that I was just being jealous and said that it was his goal to "coach me up" so I could win the award the following year. We laughed about it but then the following day, he brought in the "Top 10 Tips for Winning the Washington County Fair Swine Showmanship Championship". The tips were all sort of funny, toungue-in-cheek things like 1) Wear a 4-H tee shirt, so you look adequately patriotic; 2) Carry a brush in your back, left jeans pocket but don't use it under any circumstances; 3) Master the "earnest, yet above the fray" look and the judge will subconsciously register that you are somehow better than the others... etc...I kept the list and the following summer we had fun dutifully preparing, following the recipe to the finest detail. Lo and behold, I ended up winning, no small deal given there were maybe 100 other exhibitors (this is hog country, after all). I remember going back to the hog barn with my big trophy with the shiny gold pig on top, and laughing uncontrollably with Denny as we made plans to open up a swine showmanship school. Denny passed away way too young (he was 26 or 27 I think) but I think of him often and the great small town times that we shared.

Phillip McConnell has left an In Memory comment for Robert Harvey.
Sep 03, 2017 at 4:34 AM

Here are some thoughts I wrote about Bob on Memorial Day, a couple of years ago.
Every once in awhile I think about Bob Harvey, a classmate of mine at WHS, who got drafted and went to Vietnam where he got killed in 1968. In retrospect, he surely had a learning disability and couldn't begin to succeed in school. He was a little bit crazy, always laughing or (in class)  trying valiently to suppress a laugh, but he could never do it. Teachers would take it personally and he'd end up in detention most days. He  was a fun-loving, likable guy who either didn't know how to behave or just couldn't do it. 
 I remember one time standing at attention on our numbers in PE while Coach Roger Harrington (the "enemy", for non-football players) strolled down the line inspecting the troops (did that bad tradition continue?). Bob Harvey had forgotten his uniform for about the 3rd time in a row. Harrington bellered at him, "Harvey, where's your uniform." Bob yelled back even louder, "Harrington, I forgot it!!" It infuriated Coach Harrington and he slugged Bob hard in the chest, knocking him back a few steps. When he got his balance Bob (who wasn't that big but was pretty tough) ran back up and slugged Coach Harrington back, in the chest, knocking him back a couple of steps. Coach Harrington just stood there looking at him for about 10 seconds thinking of what he wanted to do, thought better of it, and slowly continued walking down the line inspecting the troops again. We watched all this out of the corners of our eyes. Doug Hayes was at attention next to me and we both whispered, "HOLY SHIT!" out of the corners of our mouths simultaneously. I believe that if Bob Harvey had returned alive from Vietnam he would never have had to buy his own drinks in Washington for the rest of his life, or at least when I was back visiting.
Anyway, I guess because of upcoming Memorial Day, Bob Harvey came to mind tonight and I started wondering, as I have many times before, exactly how he got I googled "how did Robert Harvey die in Vietnam?" and this Marine-related link popped up. He was wounded in a firefight, and two guys were helping him to the med-evac zone and they tripped an explosive device and it killed all three of them. It's not a lot of info, but it's good there's at least some minimal record of what happened and an expression of appreciation from someone who served with him.

Sep 03, 2017 at 2:16 AM

Oops. Got a little chatty there...

Sep 03, 2017 at 1:43 AM
Phillip McConnell has left an In Memory comment for Douglas Hayes.
Aug 01, 2017 at 4:33 PM

I'll always remember "The Clicker"; Doug's nickname from always clicking (by opening and closing) his Zippo lighter. He was my partner in Roger Harrington's gymn class. As such, we had to carry each other in the 1/2 mile carry each month. Brutal! Always a great conversationalist and a good friend.