John A. Connolly, Jr., saved Dorothy A. Ulickney and Mary Plevel and helped to save Julia D. Pavlick following an explosion, Luzerne, Pennsylvania, March 13, 1961. When an explosion occurred in a plant that manufactured caps for toy pistols, the interior and the roof were almost completely destroyed, large holes were blown in the walls, and debris was piled three to four feet deep. The five women employed in the plant were entirely or partially covered by the debris, in which flames appeared at scattered points. Although stunned by the explosion, Connolly, 26, construction equipment operator, and his brother ran 300 feet to the plant and saw two of the women attempting to free themselves. Aware of the possibility of additional explosions, Connolly and his brother entered the plant and made their way 12 feet through the debris. Connolly freed Mrs. Ulickney, 28, and aided her from the debris as his brother did likewise with the other woman. They then noticed two more women crawling from the rubble at the outside wall and ran to them. Connolly picked up Mrs. Plevel, 45, and followed his brother, carrying the other woman, from the ruins. When they were not more than 15 feet away, a second violent explosion occurred, leveling all walls. Heavy debris was hurled in all directions, some passing over them. Flames 20 feet high broke out in the rubble, and heat became intense. Connolly and his brother carried the two women a safe distance away and then noticed Mrs. Pavlick, 47, climbing out of heavily burning debris. Shielding their faces with their arms, they ran to Mrs. Pavlick, who emerged from the debris within a foot of the flames. Mrs. Pavlick, who outweighed Connolly, fell unconscious on his shoulder. He and his brother took her to an ambulance. The five women were hospitalized for injuries and burns, and they recovered.
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John A. Connolly Jr., 58, of Luzerne, Pa., died on Nov. 18, 1993. He was the son of the late John A. and Loretta Stiles Connolly.
A 1952 graduate of Luzerne High School, Connolly resided in Luzerne and Forty Fort, Pa. for most of his life. He was the president of John Connolly and Sons, Luzerne, and a partner in Connolly Realty Co. and Connolly Enterprises, both in Luzerne.
Connolly was past president of the Luzerne Lions Club, and was a member of the Ancient Order of Hibernians; the Veterans of Foreign Wars Anthracite Post 283, Kingston, Pa.; and the American Legion Post 395, Kingston. He was also a member of Sacred Heart Church, Luzerne. Connolly also was a member of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick, and was its man of the year in 1963.
With his brother, Timothy J. Connolly, he saved five people from a fire in 1961, in Kingston, Pa., receiving the Carnegie Medal.
He was buried in St. Ignatius Cemetery, Pringle.
(Edited from an obituary published in the Times Leader in Wilkes-Barre, Pa.)