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Intercity athletics loses a ‘great guy’ in Connolly

BLOOMINGTON — “How do you define a great guy?” asked Jim Baker after hearing Larry Connolly had passed away on Friday at age 85. “That’s basically what he was. He always had a smile on his face.”

Connolly was a Bloomington High School athletic event public address announcer for 40 years until retiring in 2009.

His loyalty to BHS didn’t stop him from having friends from rival schools such as Baker, a former coach at both Normal Community and Normal West.

Connolly also announced for BHS football, softball and track.

“It’s a pretty sad day in Raiderville,” said BHS athletic director John Szabo. “He was an awesome supporter. He was supportive of all Intercity events.

“I know he loved Wesleyan softball. He spent a lot of time with them as well.”

Connolly announced for IWU softball for 12 years. He also did P.A. work for major fastpitch softball teams such as the Bloomington Hearts, Bloomington Beer Nuts and the Bloomington Lady Hearts.

“He was a very friendly man, willing to help any way he could,” said IWU assistant softball coach Lyle Day. “He did P.A. work for about every organization in town.”

Connolly also announced for two years at Farmer City High School in the 1950s and five years at University High in the 1960s. He was the announcer for American Legion baseball games for many years.

In 1969, Connolly came to BHS where he was an instructor and a coach in the speech department until 1988. He also coached cross country for five years, posting a 55-11 dual meet record.

Connolly also directed plays and musicals at U High and BHS. He was also a drama director at Central Catholic.

In 1995, he was inducted into the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame as a Friend of Basketball.

Connolly endured frequent health scares, including triple bypass heart surgery in 1992.

“It’s amazing how many times he thought he was gone and we thought he was gone and he fought back and was back at a game,” Szabo said. “He was an Energizer bunny. He just wouldn’t quit.”

After retiring from announcing, Connolly was a frequent fan at BHS events.

“It didn’t matter whether we won or lost,” Szabo said. “He appreciated the kids just playing hard and being part of the Raider team or the Wesleyan team or whatever. He was extremely positive.”

Szabo visited Connolly a week ago to give him a medal won by Bloomington’s third-place state track team.

“I thought he had been a part of our program forever,” Szabo said. “He was talking about how he was going to get his oxygen tank to the football games (next fall). I told him we would work that out for him.”

Connolly was honored prior to the 1992 Intercity Football Doubleheader for his service and dedication in helping to promote high school athletics.

He toldThe Pantagraph, “To be recognized for doing something you really enjoy doing is very rewarding. To be involved with kids and see what extracurricular activities can do for them is an honor in itself.”

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