Joanne M. Connelly wore many hats in her lifetime from stewardess, to glamorous party hostess, to vice president of an advertising company, to Red Hat Society member.
“To understand my mother, we have to look at the time in which she lived and grew up,” son Michael Connelly said. “My mother graduated from Bishop Noll in 1949 when people were coming back from war. Women got married. You ran the house and your husband worked.”
Instead, Connelly became a stewardess in the early days of air travel at Capital Airlines, rising to supervisor of 44 associates in Chicago and Washington, D.C. In that era, airline policy forced Connelly to leave her job after having two children. She then became a vice president of Connors Publishing Co.
“Women in the advertising world were unheard of back then,” Michael Connelly said. “She was a leader, a pioneer in a man’s world.”
In 1966, she married Michael E. Connelly, who died in 1998. He was corporate counsel for East Chicago. They met through mutual friends. Her first husband, airline pilot Clair MacNeal, died in 1963.
A huge Notre Dame fan, Connelly’s father bought season tickets in 1930 when the stadium was built.
Connelly, 81, of Munster, enjoyed throwing lavish parties.
“My mother had 100 people at our house on Christmas Eve in East Chicago,” Michael Connelly said. “The priests would come before Mass. People would come before and after midnight Mass.”
Dinner was served and string trios and quartet bands would play in the house. Connelly, a member of the St. Stanislaus and Immaculate Conception choirs, played the baby grand piano and sang. She also hosted Fourth of July cookouts and lavish dinner parties for about 30 guests three times monthly.