In Memory of Colleen A. Connolly

November 28, 1935 - March 16, 2024

Colleen Connolly (Hannah), age 88, of Amery, WI passed away March 16, 2024 of old age. Born November 28, 1935 in St. Paul, the 1st child of Lawrence and Audrey Connolly. Colleen’s early childhood was a roadmap of the USA, drawn while living near various military bases where her father installed lightning rods on hangars. During this time Colleen was always the new kid, and she attended a dozen different schools. This shaped her personality to be independent, tough and gregarious, always softened by her sweet smile and unforgettable hazel eyes. Her beloved brothers, Brian and Charlie came a decade later and she was like a 3rd parent to them.

Colleen grew up Catholic, and graduated from St Joseph’s Academy in 1953. Colleen thought she wanted to be a nun, but “didn’t like that they wouldn’t let her talk” and attended the U of M for a period. During this time, she would bring the house down at piano bars in town with her powerful and soulful singing voice. Colleen found love in Gordy Hannah, and they married in 1957, which started another odyssey. Their sons, Mike, Tucker, Casey and Marty were born in quick succession over 5 years. The family travelled as Gordy found teaching jobs in a number of midwestern towns, including Red Wing, MN, ending up in Amery, where their fifth son Grady was born. Colleen loved music, and her beautiful singing voice anchored the choir at St Joseph’s church in Amery, where she was also a teen counselor. She was always proud of her boys, instilling in them her best qualities and could be clearly heard in the stands cheering for her boys at sporting events for many years. New friends were many and life was a dream come true.

In 1977, at age 42, overweight and overworked at multiple jobs running kitchens, Colleen had a stroke, setting her on the fight of her life; through speech and physical therapy, Colleen overcame her obstacles and never let her stroke or partial paralysis define or significantly limit her. And astoundingly, never complained or lamented about what she had lost. Colleen, as was her way, charged ahead, and stayed a strong mother resuming work as a cook to keep the family afloat.

Having lost muscle control of the right side of her body, her dominant side, through therapy and determination, Colleen regained her ability to walk, drive, read, do arithmetic, and work and live life with no practical bounds. A staunch advocate for the handicapped, a number of Amery ramps were erected due to her will. When her older boys went to college, Colleen moved back to St. Paul to give a better life for her son Grady. She cultivated her new career working as a group counselor for the challenged, working full-time for nearly 2 decades and fully supporting her son, Grady through high school. Upon retirement, Colleen moved back to Amery for retirement living in a house she and her friend Pat Faschingbauer had built. Eventually her handicap curtailed her independent living and her new home was Golden Age Manor where she created havoc and shared love in equal portions. You always knew when Colleen was in the room for her humor, wit and indomitable spirit were there for all to see and hear. She loved people and gave freely of all that she was. Colleen was the footing that held up her family with her endless well of love and was an inspiration to many others. Get on her wrong side and you would know it, probably with a healthy dose of cuss words, her sweetness softening their bite.

Collen is survived by her brother, Brian (Lynne) Connolly; Hannah sons, Mike, Tucker (Kathy Feste), Marty (Sonia), and Grady (Mia); grandchildren, Kyle, Kelley, Audra, Sienna, Zandria, June and Jovi; and many beloved extended family members and dear family friends. She is preceded in death by her parents, Lawrence and Audrey Connolly; brother, Charlie and son, Casey.

Celebration of Colleen’s Life will take place at 1:30 pm on Sunday, March 24, 2024 at the Williamson – White Funeral Home in Amery. A visitation will take place from 12 pm to 1:30 pm prior to the service at the funeral home. Burial will take place following the service, at the Amery Cemetery.

Last Update: Mar 21, 2024 4:18 pm CDT

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