Ocean Beach 05

Richard J. Connelly

November 6, 2022

Obituary

Richard J. Connelly

Richard J. Connelly (Dick) of Bridgewater, NJ, formerly of Bonita Springs, FL, Manchester, VT and Plainfield, NJ, a former Vice President with the ABC Television Network, died on November 6, 2022, one day after his Notre Dame Fighting Irish upset Clemson. He was 88.

A Mass will be celebrated at St. Bartholomew the Apostle Roman Catholic Church in Scotch Plains NJ on November 12th at 11am. Immediately following a luncheon will be held at the Plainfield Country Club, Edison, NJ. Memorial donations may be made in Dick’s name to Catholic Charities or the FPC Food Pantry, 270 Woodbridge Avenue, Metuchen, NJ 08840 or a charity of their choice. 

Dick was born in Perth Amboy, New Jersey and grew up in Rahway and settled with his family in Plainfield. In 1955 he received a degree in Journalism from the University of Notre Dame and then served as a pilot in the Air Force. He began his career in communications as a newspaper reporter for The Commercial Appeal in Memphis, TN.

In 1961 he joined NBC News in NYC and spent the next 31 years in the television industry. At NBC News, he was in charge of publicity for the “Huntley-Brinkley Report.” In 1965, he joined ABC News and spent the next 27 years in increasingly responsible positions with the network public relations department and headed the department for 10 years until his retirement in 1992.

His responsibilities at ABC-TV included all prime-time entertainment programs plus news, sports, early-morning, late-night and daytime programs. His department was responsible for the highly successful public relations campaigns for the specials “The Winds of War” and “Roots” as well as ABC Sports’ coverage of six Olympic Games. 

Upon his retirement The Star Ledger reported, “We usually use several pejoratives for publicity guys. We call them flacks or hacks or worse. But none of that applies to Connelly. Try the word “professional” instead, because that always has been the way he was. Honest, helpful, reliable, a straight shooter who would never hold out of you, never play games…and above all, friend. …We will miss this gentle man and our semi-annual press tours to La La Land will not be the same without Dick.” (March 30, 1992) While his retirement was also written up in both the NY and LA Times this piece best captured Dick - he was a kind and honest public relations man who chose his words carefully.

An avid golfer, he scored three holes-in-one (but his wife had one before he did). He was a member of the Bonita Bay Club, Manchester Country Club and a former long-time member of Plainfield Country Club in NJ.  He was an active member at his churches, Catholic Charities and the Christian Brothers charities. He volunteered during retirement teaching English to migrant workers in SW Florida as well as serving as a eucharist minister through Hospice services. 

A enthusiastic Notre Dame sports fan, Dick was known to host football parties in his home as his wife played the ND fight song on piano as guests arrived. He attended milestone ND alumni events and stayed close with classmates throughout the years. 

Dick made lifelong friends including the West Side Plainfield gang, PCC golf and tennis, Mantoloking, and ABC colleagues. He was known for his detailed lists, competitive golf pools, and hosting memorable Christmas parties. He also wrote elaborate skits for the St. Mary’s Couples Club. Always the photographer he took photos…so many photos, and cherished videos. He was great at documenting the lives around him. 

In his 88 years his greatest joy (other than golf and cheering on the Irish) was being a grandfather to Ryan, Kyle, Brynn and Rylie. He was a caring PopPop and Head counselor of “Camp Connelly.” 

He leaves behind his cherished wife of 67 years, Carolyn (Rooney); four children: Kathleen Harmon (Randolph) of Plainfield, NJ; John (Ronni) of Bone Cave, TN; Susan (Dave Bolger) of North Plainfield, NJ and Meighan Rask (Kurt) of Slingerlands, NY, along with four grandchildren: Ryan, Kyle, Brynn and Rylie.  He also leaves two sisters: Shelia Myshka of Somerset, NJ and Mavourneen Vigneault of Windsor Locks, CT., and his nieces and nephews. 

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