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Joseph "Joe" R.
Connell Sr.

December 14, 1928 – May 1, 2020

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"We are honored to provide this Book of Memories to the family."
— Morse-Bayliss Funeral Home
"Thank you for your life long service. Rest in peace, Joe R. Connell."
— Raven Chiong
"Growing up we all heard about the Connell cousins from our Mom (Marion Gallagher) and her sisters, Terry, Jackie and Joyce. Our Gramm..."
— The Gallagher Families
"Judy Peace and Love to you my old nursing school buddy! Pat"
— Pat Onanian

Obituary for Joseph "Joe" R. Connell Sr.

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U. S. Marine Corps Veteran
Retired Westford Chief of Police

Joseph Richard Connell, Sr., age 91, a lifelong resident of Westford, passed away in Bedford, MA, on May 1, 2020. Joe was the son of the late John L. and Catherine Alice (Gower) Connell. He was the husband of Joan (Crowley) Connell, who predeceased him in 2012 and with whom he celebrated their fifty-eighth wedding anniversary in 2011.

Born in Lowell, MA, on December 14, 1928, and raised in the Graniteville neighborhood of Westford, Joe graduated from the Sargent Elementary School. He went on to attend Keith Academy in Lowell, where he played varsity football and baseball. His athletic talents did not go unnoticed, and he was offered a spot on the Baltimore Orioles’ farm team following a tryout during his senior year.

Joe opted instead to travel to the University of Georgia on a football scholarship. Much to his family’s surprise, his belongings arrived back on the family doorstep within a couple of months. They soon learned that Joe had enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps. Following recruit training at Parris Island, Joe soon found himself aboard the USS Mississippi, where he served until March 1950. He once again gravitated toward sports-this time boxing-and was again a standout. He went on to win several championships, including the 1949 All-Navy heavyweight boxing championship in Oakland, California.

Just as he was set to be discharged from the Marines in 1950, the Korean War broke out and his enlistment was extended for another year. Joe was transferred to Camp Pendleton, California, where he was assigned to the First Marine Division. His battalion shipped out to Kobe, Japan, and soon participated in the invasion of Inchon, the assault and seizure of Seoul, the Chosin Reservoir campaign, and the Hungnam Evacuation. During the war he earned a Combat Action Ribbon, U.N. Korean War Medal (with 3 battle stars), Presidential Unit Citation (1st Marine Div.), and Korean Presidential Unit Citation.

Following his discharge in San Diego, in 1951, Joe traveled to New York City, where he signed a contract to box professionally with Chris and Angelo Dundee. He engaged in two professional bouts but within a few months decided to return home to Westford and to a profession with more of a future.

Joe’s career of public service began with his appointment as Westford Superintendent of Streets in 1952. Accepting the position of patrolman on the Westford Police force in 1958, he moved through the ranks and was appointed Chief of Police in 1963, a position he would hold for over thirty years. During that time, Joe held the office of President of the Northern Middlesex County Police Association, the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association, and the New England Association of Chiefs of Police-even making time to earn his degree from Northeastern University (1974) along the way.

Joe’s interests included ham radio and maintaining lifelong friendships with other members of the First Marine Division Association and the Chosin Few (survivors of the battle at Chosin Reservoir).

Joe leaves four children: Jerilyn Connell, of Kanab, Utah; Jayne Connell and her husband Jeffrey Duban, of New York City; Judith Connell, of Watertown, MA; and Joseph Connell, Jr., and his wife Deborah (Nix) Connell, of Westford, MA; and four beloved grandchildren: Briana, Nolan, Brendan, and Keegan Connell. He is survived by his sisters-in-law Rita (Vigneault) Connell and Joanne (O’Brien) Connell of Westford; his brother-in-law, Daniel E. Crowley of Leominster, MA; and a large and loving extended family. He was predeceased by four brothers: John L., William D., Thomas J., and Daniel D. Connell; and a sister-in-law, Donna (O’Dea) Connell, all of Westford.

The family wishes to thank Lisa Boiko and Linda Easterday, who have been Joe’s closest companions and dear friends over the past several years. The Joseph R. Connell Family will always be grateful for their kindness, support, expertise, and friendship-as we know our parents were. Thanks, too, to the dedicated staff at the Edith Nourse Rogers Memorial Veterans Hospital in Bedford for their professionalism and devotion to those who have given so much for our country.

A Mass and burial will be held at a later time, when friends and family may more safely and happily come together.

Those wishing to honor Joe’s memory are encouraged to make a donation to the Semper Fi Fund; 825 College Blvd., Suite 102; PMB 609; Oceanside, CA 92057. https://semperfifund.org or to St. Catherine’s Cemetery; 107 North Main Street; Westford, MA 01886. Arrangements entrusted to the Morse-Bayliss Funeral Home, Lowell. Funeral Director, Frederick W. Healy. www.morsebaylissfuneralhome.com
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