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Connor, Maureen Elizabeth

Connor, Maureen Elizabeth

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Connor, Maureen Elizabeth

The Big Sky Sisters lost one of their most loveable characters on July 17, 2020….

Maureen Elizabeth Connor was born in Helena in 1948 to William and Maryel (Sheehan) Connor. At the time, her mom was a housewife and dad an entrepreneur. She truly felt blessed to have younger brothers Bill and Kevin and later sister Maggie. Being a very curious and social child, quickly dubbed the socialite of Power Street, she dressed up every day and visited whichever neighbors prepared the best cookies, selecting her rounds based on whom made what cookies on which day. This pattern continued throughout her life – always having the right outfit and knowing the right place and time for some great lifetime experiences.

Maureen spent her formative years growing up in Helena, attending St. Helena Grade School and graduating from Helena High School in 1966. During the winter she skied at Belmont and in the summer she could be found swimming beside the family lakeside cabin at Canyon Ferry. When graduated she joined her family who had moved to California. Now a small-town girl in the big city, she worked several jobs including wallpaper sales, and in the hospitality industry.

Maureen met Benjamin Chocolate her life partner who was a storyteller, an artist, and fellow free-spirit. They overcame social barriers as an interracial couple, difficult to navigate even in the time of flower power.

While Maureen’s family returned to Montana in 1970, she remained in the Bay Area. She found her passion for helping and healing by becoming a massage therapist, a profession she studied enthusiastically and in which she worked for the rest of her life. She trained in therapies that became her hallmark as a sought-after massage therapist to her California clients for more than five decades. She refused to raise her prices initially set in the 70s or consider a cancellation fee. Her goal was never to make money, which was a bit difficult for those whose advice she rarely took. She loved her home in Calistoga and the friends and clients she had in the San Francisco area. They loved her too.

Maureen was a great conversationalist, a supporter of public broadcasting, and in tune with all current events, be it politics or social issues. She was a lover of people and always had an entertaining story. With her remarkable memory – and only a touch of embellishment – she recalled stories and events about everyone with great detail. (One she told of herself was how much she loved to ski, and how good she was at the sport. It was true too, if you define skiing as getting a fancy new coat and socializing in the lodge with hot chocolate! Sorry, her family loved to teaser her.) She volunteered at homeless shelters and kitchens. Her report about the day would be of the great people she met, the best soup she ever tasted, and how grateful she was to be there. Likewise, she was the one to organize family reunions from afar and always ready to join friends for the opera or ballet.

Maureen was an avid reader, gardener, movie goer, and an art enthusiast, enough to try painting a bit herself. She collected antiques and had the palate a food critic would envy. She was an explorer, innovator, a free spirit, and a perennial optimist.

Maureen was a wonderful girlfriend to many friends. In turn, these friends (many known as the Big Sky Sisters) were unforgettably giving and kind to Maureen throughout her life, and Maureen’s family wishes to extend their deepest gratitude to those that made Maureen their chosen family.

Maureen’s health and cognition began to decline early in the new millennia. The effects were difficult to detect at first. She never imagined aging or experiencing illness that was silently invading her mind and body; refusing to acknowledge that she could not overcome and draw victory from the jaws of defeat. Her siblings moved her back to Montana in 2018.

When Maureen’s care became too complex for an in-home environment, the staff at Apple Rehab Cooney made the last months of her life as comfortable and warm as possible. For that, the family is extremely grateful. Hospice was absolutely needed and effective. She was separated from her family for a time due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but Maureen was able to visit with her brother and sister one last time the day before her death. During that time, she was able to hear and respond “I love you” to her siblings. Maureen died on the early morning of July 17, 2020.

Maureen is survived by her brother Kevin (Marilyn) and his children Jenni (Ryan, children Bridger and Hudson) and Jake (Nava, children Lexi, Paetyn, and Caprice); and sister Maggie her children Marina and Sean. Her death was preceded by that of her partner Benjamin, brother Bill, father, mother, aunts, uncles, cousins, and some close friends.

To celebrate Maureen’s life, wrap your arms around yourself and give yourself a great big hug, as Maureen instructed at the end of every phone call. Due to the pandemic, there is no gathering planned. Please visit www.retzfuneralhome.com to offer a condolence or share a memory of Maureen.

Peace.

To plant a tree in memory of Maureen Connor as a living tribute, please visit Tribute Store.

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