100 WVIA Way
Pittston, PA 18640

Phone: 570-826-6144
Fax: 570-655-1180

Copyright © 2024 WVIA, all rights reserved. WVIA is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Granddaughter remembers Scranton Mayor Jim Connors as 'Papa' who sought 'the high road to adventure'

Quinn Hemphill MacDonald, granddaughter of the late Jimmy Connors, hugs her grandmother, Susan Blum Connors, after talking about her grandfather at his funeral Tuesday at St. Peter's Cathedral in Scranton
Aimee Dilger
/
WVIA News
Quinn Hemphill MacDonald, granddaughter of the late Jimmy Connors, hugs her grandmother, Susan Blum Connors, after talking about her grandfather at his funeral Tuesday at St. Peter's Cathedral in Scranton.

Zac Connors asked forbearance as he started to speak at his father’s funeral Tuesday.

The son of Scranton Mayor Jim Connors said his father was the one who liked to talk publicly.

“Speaking in front of people is not one of the things I got from my dad. I promise I'll be faster than he would be,” he said.

The assembled hundreds at St. Peter’s Cathedral in Scranton got the joke because, as Monsignor Joseph Quinn said in his homily, the former mayor loved the microphone.

“But the most dangerous place to be in our community, from 1990 to 2002 especially, was when anybody handed Jim a microphone,” Quinn said. “You'd love to listen, but you kept saying, ‘Is it over?'”

But Quinn said Connors understood the importance of giving back to the community and “never did abandon the calling in his own life, as he understood it.”

“A life intended to be lived not for himself, but always with and for others,” he said.

Connors, the city’s mayor in the 1990s, died unexpectedly June 26 at age 77. Friends, family and supporters almost filled the cathedral Tuesday to say goodbye for the final time.

Zac Connors said his father always thought about one thing.

“What was best for the people of Scranton,” Connors said. “He said to me recently, 'I turned around, and I had a career, I didn't even realize it.' He told me it went from being about helping the kids in the neighborhood all the way to becoming mayor. From there, it was just about helping families in Scranton, and being a presence for good in the community.”

Connors remembered his father taking him, a cousin and some friends to see the Up In Smoke tour at Montage Mountain in 2000. The tour featured famed rappers Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre.

“And instead of being out of his element, he was right at home, just as he was listening to any kind of live music, which isn't surprising. You know your dad lived a pretty cool life when it was just a side note that he went to Woodstock,” Connors said.

A million times, he said, he watched someone come up to his father and ask, “You don't know who I am, do you?”

“Most of the time he would. But to me, what was more impressive was when he needed a reminder,” Connors said. “He would say, ‘What's your last name?’ and then not only would he know the person, you would have a story about one or more of their relatives, and the person would look shocked. You could see their spirits lifted by how personal and meaningful the story would be.”

“To us, Papa was our very own Peter Pan, the boy who never grew up, he would burst into our house and ask if we wanted to hit the high road to adventure,” MacDonald said. “Papa taught us to be creative and kind. Even as small children. He valued our thoughts and feelings and was our most trusted friend.”

Four weeks before he died, Jim Connors attended the wedding of his granddaughter, Quinn Hemphill MacDonald, who lovingly eulogized her “Papa” as a devoted father and grandfather.

“To us, Papa was our very own Peter Pan, the boy who never grew up, he would burst into our house and ask if we wanted to hit the high road to adventure,” MacDonald said. “Papa taught us to be creative and kind. Even as small children. He valued our thoughts and feelings and was our most trusted friend.”

Her grandfather, MacDonald said, “spent a lifetime advocating for his beliefs” and actively developed relationships with family and friends.

“Papa believed that all souls were equal and deserving of mercy, comfort and dignity," she said. "He felt that everyone should have a friend and made sure that each person he met knew they had one in him. He believed that children are the wisest among us and honoring them will lead to a brighter future. Papa was profoundly peaceful, believing that holding grudges wasted energy that could be better spent helping others. No matter the problem, big or small. He felt it was his duty to fix it. He believed in miracles.”

Borys joins WVIA News from The Scranton Times-Tribune, where he served as an investigative reporter and covered a wide range of political stories. His work has been recognized with numerous national and state journalism awards from the Inland Press Association, Pennsylvania Associated Press Managing Editors, Society of Professional Journalists and Pennsylvania Newsmedia Association.

You can email Borys at boryskrawczeniuk@wvia.org