gmhTODAY 14 gmhToday May June 2017 - Page 105

S ally and Larry Connell moved to Gilroy in 1969. Larry’s a native of San Luis Obispo and Sally was born in Illinois. They met in the 1950s as students in the same class at UCLA and got married the same year they graduated. It was fun to get to know them and how they came to live here in our fair city. Sally had transferred to UCLA from the University of Wisconsin when her parents moved to Pasadena. She joined a sorority and guess what? Larry just happened to be living in the basement of the sorority house. He was working there as a hasher. The Sorority house employed a German cook. She needed a kitchen helper, a pot washer to be more specific, someone who could make the pots and pans spotless. Larry convinced her that he could do the job, which came with lodging in the basement. But Sally and Larry didn’t meet in the sorority house, they met on campus one day when Larry spotted Sally wearing a University of Wisconsin shirt. Let me back up here and give you a little background. Larry is an only child. His parents, Dale and Ruth Connell, moved to Gilroy from San Luis Obispo in 1947. But in the years before that, Dale had joined the Navy and gone off to the war. Dale and Ruth had put six-year-old Larry on a Greyhound bus headed for South Dakota where Dale’s brothers ran a farm. Back to the bus…little Larry spent several days under the care of Greyhound bus drivers until he arrived safely in South Dakota. Although he was given money to buy food, he never had to spend it because he always met nice people on the bus who shared their food with him. Larry traveled back and forth between California and South Dakota for three years. All in all, his time on the farm was a great learning experience, his uncles were like older brothers, and Larry discovered that South Dakota was a great place to buy fire crackers! Larry was in the eighth grade when the Cornells came to Gilroy. During his studies at Gilroy High, he was advised to join the Navy Reserve Officer Training Corps. He continued with that at UCLA. Immediately after graduation, he was ordered to Pensacola, Florida, for Flight School. Advanced jet training took him (and Sally) to Kingsville, Texas; Mountain View, San Diego, and Lemoore (not far from Harris Ranch on Interstate 5), California; Jacksonville, Florida; and Norfolk, Virginia. His tours of duty included many flights over the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans as a carrier jet pilot. The aircraft carriers that he served on were the Bon Homme Richard, the Hancock, and the America, where he performed more than 300 aircraft carrier landings at all hours of the day and night. Larry retired as a Captain in the United States Naval Reserve in 1994. When Larry and Sally came to Gilroy, Sally got right into community involvement serving twelve years on the Gilroy Unified School District Board of Trustees. She and her fellow trustee Maryann Brugman would often go to Digger Dan’s (where CVS is now located) to debrief. They would ask to sit in the dining room to have private time, making sure no one else from the board would be there, so as to avoid a quorum! Sally was also instrumental in the establishment of the Theater Angels, the forerunner of the Gilroy Art Alliance. Theater Angels purchased the W