J.A. (Tony) Connelly peacefully passed away in Calgary on May 23 at the age of 89. Left to mourn Tony’s passing are his wife and best friend of 66 years, Eileen, and his five children – daughter Patricia and sons Dennis, Michael, Kevin, and Kel, along with their families. Tony was predeceased by his son Tony Jr, his parents, Dennis and Josephine, and his sisters Aileen and Leona, and brother Dennis.
Tony was born October 23, 1929 in Calgary, spending his early years in the Sunalta district, where he first nourished his love for sports, music, and friends. When he was 11, he moved to Hanna, where he established many lifetime friendships. When not playing baseball, Tony could be found hard at work in his father’s restaurant, learning the industry that he would so finely distinguish himself in for almost a half century.
In 1952, Tony was united in marriage to the love of his life – Eileen McDermott. After his father sold the family business, Tony and Eileen relocated their family to Calgary, where he embarked upon a successful career in the life insurance industry. But the hospitality industry was in his blood, so in 1963, Tony and Eileen again pulled up stakes, moving to Red Deer where Tony first became well known at the Capri. Later hotel management positions included the Granada, along with hotels in Saskatoon, Edmonton, and Jasper. After a 10-year absence from Red Deer, Tony returned as General Manager of the Red Deer Elks Club.
Tony’s love of Red Deer led to extensive community involvement in a number of service clubs. In addition to the Elks, Tony was a member of the Royal Canadian Legion, the Optimist Club, the Loyal Order of Moose, and the Knights of Columbus. Tony also served on Red Deer City Council as an alderman between 1983-1989, culminating with a very memorable campaign for mayor. Following his retirement from elected office, Tony continued his community involvement, serving for a number of years on the Red Deer Regional Health Foundation and the Red Deer Regional Hospital Volunteer Board.
As well, Tony was extensively involved informally in his community. This quiet, informal involvement led to the formation of the Tony Connelly Singers, who to this day are still bringing the gift of song to residents of seniors’ facilities and nursing homes.
In later years, although in declining health and having lost the ability to speak, Tony continued to be a most welcoming host with his smile and twinkling eyes to all he encountered at the Providence Care Centre in Calgary.
Relatives and friends are invited to Prayers at Holy Spirit Catholic Church (10827 24 St SW) on Wednesday, May 29 at 8:00pm. A Funeral Mass will be celebrated at St. Mary’s Parish (6 McMillan Ave, Red Deer) on Thursday, May 30 at 1:00pm with the Rev. Mirek Kostarzewski presiding. Photos, memories and condolences may be shared with Connelly family through www.evanjstrong.com. In lieu of flowers, friends are invited to make memorial tributes directly to the charity of their choosing. Arrangements in care of EVAN J. STRONG FUNERAL SERVICES. (403) 265-1199
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