Dr. Frederick W. "Jiggs" McConnell Jr.
Dr. Frederick "Jiggs" W. McConnell, Jr., 89, of Woxall, died on July 27, 2010.
Born: in Alliance, Ohio on January 10, 1921, the son of a Methodist pastoral couple, Rev. Frederick W. McConnell, Sr. and Laura Sargent McConnell.
Personal: In 1970 he married Josephine Fackenthal, who survives. They recently celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary. His childhood was spent in various locations in Pennsylvania, moving when his father was assigned to a different parish. He was a graduate of Bentleyville High School. After undergraduate work at Blackburn College in Illinois, Dr. McConnell matriculated at Boston University where he earned a PhD in Philosophy.
In 1956 he began a teaching career at Moravian College, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, where he became Chair of the Department of Philosophy. During the 25 years he taught at Moravian, he developed friendships with students that continued throughout his life. His scholars remember "Doc" as being "not just a teacher of philosophy, but a philosopher." After teaching a session, the class discussion would continue as he walked with students to the Commons area and continued to dialogue about the topic of the day. Students appreciated him as being logical, rational and deeply grounded in his faith, with the ability to intellectualize and defend his beliefs in reasonable and foundational ways. His files contain letters of appreciation, many including the phrase, "He taught me how to think." He often reminded students that the unexamined life is not worth living.
In Fred's youth, he spent summers at his Father's and Uncle's farm near Woxall and became interested in clearing the 80 acres of undeveloped land. In the 1940s his farming operation began with raising tomatoes for Campbell's Soup Company. Eventually he and Josephine planted apples and peach trees on the farm. McConnell's Orchard was widely known throughout the North Penn/Indian Valley area. During fruit season, he and Josie sold the crop from the front porch of the farmhouse. Under Fred's direction, the orchard continued in full production until 2009. Many of the farm employees were long term co-workers, assisting at the orchard for 30 years or more. A deep appreciation for God's Creation, and a special concern to continue open space in the area, led the McConnell's to place their farmland into a permanent preservation land trust. Their home became a community gathering place with extended hospitality for persons of diverse ethnicity as well as former students and numerous visitors. The welcoming aura at the farmhouse, reflected Dr. McConnell's affirming and trusting philosophy. He truly believed that acceptance and justice must be extended to all people.
Memberships: He was a member of Salford Mennonite Church. Survivors: In addition to his spouse, he is survived by a nephew, Richard Rike, of Freemansburg.
Services: Relatives and friends may greet the family at Salford Mennonite Church, 480 Groff's Mill Road, Harleysville, on Sunday, August 8, 2010 between 1:30 and 2:45 p.m. and are invited to attend his Memorial Service at 3 p.m. Burial will be private. Memorials: Memorial donations may be made to Keystone Opportunity Center for the Food Pantry, P.O. Box 64183, Souderton, 18964 or to Grandview Hospital Foundation, Hospice Program, 700 Lawn Ave., Sellersville 18960. Huff & Lakjer, Lansdale.
Published in The Express Times on July 29, 2010