MADISON—William James “Bill” Connors, 81, died Monday, March 30, at Agrace Hospice Center after a recurrence of cancer.
Born in 1938, Bill was raised in working-class neighborhoods of Madison like the Greenbush by his parents, James and Elenora (Freiling) Connors. He attended St. Raphael’s school through 8th grade and played youth baseball and Pop Warner football. He attended Madison Central High School, from which he graduated in 1956. He was a varsity athlete in football and track and field.
Bill earned a B.S. in Chemistry from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and an M.S. in Chemistry from the University of Delaware. He was proud to have served as a research assistant to Nobel Prize laureate Har Gobind Khorana. He earned a PhD in Organic Chemistry from the University of Washington.
Bill met Carol Nachtwey while he was working in Madison and she was a senior at the UW-Madison. They married in 1962 and started a family. He was particularly proud of the house on Quinn Circle that he designed and built for his family.
For many years, Bill was a research chemist at U.S. Forest Products Lab in Madison. He was the author of numerous articles published in scholarly journals. He was awarded a federal Fulbright Scholar Program grant to live and do research in Helsinki, Finland, in 1974-75. The year in Finland was one of the happiest of the family's lives and his children will be forever grateful for that year they got to live abroad.
Bill left chemistry and enrolled in the University of Wisconsin Law School, earning a J.D. in 1981. He became a patent lawyer and worked for Nicolet Instruments in Madison, Lubrizol in Wickliffe, OH, and Grand Metropolitan in Minneapolis, MN.
On New Year’s Day, 1993, Bill met Vera Nikiforov at a gathering in his apartment in St. Paul, MN. They started their adventures together and married in Madison in 2003.
Bill was a proud friend of Bill W. for decades.
Bill adored his grandchildren and Vera’s grandchildren, loved his dogs and cats over the years, and was an avid gardener. Bill volunteered many hours for Democratic Party candidates for office.
Bill is survived by his wife of 17 years, Vera Nikiforov; son, William Edward (Joan Sorteberg) of Sun Prairie; daughter, Kathleen of Madison; brother, James of Madison; sister, Patricia (Paul Fritschel) of Fitchburg; sister, Frances (Ted Chase) of Truckee, CA; sister-in-law, Penny of Wisconsin Dells; former wife, Carol (Nachtwey) Connors of Madison; four grandchildren and many close friends.
He waspreceded in death by his parents; daughter, Mary; brother, Terrence of Wisconsin Dells; and sister-in-law Susan of Madison.
A celebration of Bill’s life will be scheduled at a later date.
Donations in Bill's honor may be made to the Madison Cat Project, www.madisoncatproject.org.
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