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Claude McConnell passes away at 95

Dr. Dr. Claude Hardison McConnell, 95 of Davidson, passed away Jan. 17 at The Pines at Davidson, where he was a resident. He was born May 28, 1924 in Lewisburg, Tenn. He was the next to the youngest of eight children born to Jennie Groves McKnight McConnell and Edmund David McConnell.

He graduated from Marshall County High School in 1943 and immediately enlisted in the US Air Force as a Technical Sergeant/Flight Engineer/Bombardier with the Eighth Air Force. He flew 32 missions over Germany in B-24 Liberators and proudly remembered being on the crews flying fuel to General Patton in Africa.

At the end of WWII, he attended and graduated from Northern Illinois College of Optometry. While there, he met and later married, Dr. Mary Jane Gates in 1950. Together, they moved to North Carolina and began their optometry practice on Main Street in Davidson. Their first office was located in, what is now, the second floor of the Kindred restaurant. They had offices in Davidson and Mooresville. Both retired after 40 years of practice.

A member of Bethel Presbyterian Church and American Legion Post 86, Claude was frequently seen at Veterans Day and Memorial Day ceremonies at the Veterans Monument at Rotary Plaza next to Cornelius Town Hall. He was also a member of the Sons of the American Revolution and Williams Masonic Lodge 176.

Dr. McConnell was devoted to his family, patients and community. He gave over 20 years of service internationally, working on medical missions in South America, Haiti, Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala as well as the USA.

Dr. McConnell was preceded in death by his wife of 62 years, Mary Jane Gates McConnell. He is survived by daughters, Mary Claudia (Coco) McConnell Killian and her husband, Ray Allen Killian, Jr. of Charlotte, NC; Gayle Jane McConnell Tallardy and her husband, Charles Carroll (Carl) Tallardy III of Charlotte, NC and Key Largo, FL; and son, Hardison Gates McConnell, Sr. and his wife, Robbie Massey McConnell of Huntersville, NC; grandchildren, Ray Allen (Rally) Killian III and his wife Alison Woodruff Killian of Charlotte, NC; Mary Gates Killian of Atlanta, GA; Hardison Gates (Skip) McConnell, Jr. and Cameron O’Neal McConnell of Wilmington, NC.

A service to celebrate the life of Dr. Claude Hardison McConnell will be held at 11 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 21 at Bethel Presbyterian Church in Cornelius with Rev. Dr. Tom Boone officiating. Visitation to follow the service in the Family Life Center. Burial is private.

The family extends their most heartfelt thanks and appreciation to Dr. Ron Beamon of Atrium Health-Davidson Clinic, Dr. Clarence Coutts of the VA Clinic and the loving, devoted staff of The Pines at Davidson.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorials be made to Bethel Presbyterian Church, 1992 Bethel Church Road, Cornelius, NC 28031 or The Pines at Davidson, 400 Avinger Lane, Davidson, NC 28036.

James Funeral Home of Huntersville is serving the family.