January 15, 2021
LAURA JEAN McCONNELL passed away at Riverside Hospital, Columbus, on Friday, January 15, 2021 resulting from complications of lifelong cerebral palsy. Thankfully, her family was permitted to be with her.
Laura was born in Mount Vernon, Ohio on March 27, 1974 and resided with her family at the McConnell Berry Farm on Green Valley Road until their relocation in Lake Placid, Florida in 1989. She and her family were members of Green Valley Chapel and she attended exceptional education classes from kindergarten through middle school in Mansfield. In 1994 Laura graduated with honors from Lake Placid High School and later from Hillsborough Community College in 2007. She was a member of the Memorial United Methodist Church in Lake Placid and loved having fun with the youth group. After she and her parents returned to Ohio in 2007, Laura attended classes at The Ohio State University. Most recently, she resided in her own north Columbus apartment with caregivers.
Ohio Easter Seals chose her to represent the charity as its poster child in 1980. Recognizing her musical talent, she took piano lessons in Mount Vernon and performed in a piano recital along with her sister, Julie. She also performed in choir and drama productions at John Sherman Middle School in Mansfield. While in high school in Lake Placid, Laura was chosen as a recipient of the Walt Disney Dreamers and Doers award and was a guest at Disney World for the all-day award celebration and programs. Her high school peers realized her need for a new power wheelchair and managed to raise thousands of dollars to purchase and present her exactly what she needed! The Lake Placid Order of the Moose honored her with college scholarships in recognition of outstanding effort and achievement. She was recognized for her persistent, “never give up” tenacity by her classmate valedictorian in his graduation speech and received the National Honor Society sash. Laura served on the Florida Governor’s task force to advocate and promote opportunities for the disabled.
Despite her physical disability and dependence on others, Laura and her handicapped assistance dog, Able, were determined to be out and about, involved as encouragers to others and keeping up with her older brother, sister, foster siblings and assigned berry farm duties. A highlight of her youth were the weeks spent at the Warsaw, Ohio Camp Echoing Hills Christian summer camp for the disabled. Her decision to ask Jesus to be her Savior was made there. Family and friends still remark about Laura’s gifts of mercy, kindness, advocacy for others and joy. Her wide smile, laugh and sense of humor, as well as having Able at her side as a conversation starter, “broke the ice” for people to talk to her. Since living in Columbus, she became well known as an advocate for day hab center peers who hadn’t the courage or knowledge to speak up for themselves.
Laura is survived be her parents, Richard and Jeannette (Fulton) McConnell, brother Matt and Michelle (Kahler) McConnell; sister, Julie (Chad) Mullins; one niece, Rylie Mullins; four nephews, Braedon Mullins, Zack (Courtney), Colby and Hunter McConnell.
Laura’s family will greet friends and loved ones during calling hours 2-4 p.m., Sunday, January 24, 2021 at the Marysville United Methodist Church. A remembering service and graveside ceremony is planned for 1:00 p.m., Saturday, March 27th at the Green Valley Chapel, Mount Vernon, Ohio.
The family encourages donations in memory of Laura to either the Dave Thomas Adoption Foundation (Dave Thomas Foundation.org/1-800-275-3832 ) or Echoing Hills Village, Warsaw, OH (firstname.lastname@example.org/740-327-2311). Underwood Funeral Home is assisting the family. Condolences may be expressed to the family at www.underwoodfuneralhome.com.
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