Timothy J. Connolly saved Marcella V. Kanaske and Rose B. Kubacki, 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, 24, 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. Kanaske, 42, and aided her from the debris as his brother did likewise with the other woman. They then noticed two other women crawling from the rubble at the outside wall and ran to them. Connolly picked up Mrs. Kubacki, 39, and was followed by 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 the brother, fell unconscious on his shoulder. Connolly and his brother took Mrs. Pavlick to an ambulance. The five women were hospitalized for injuries and burns, and they recovered.
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Timothy J. Connolly, of Pringle, Pa., died on May 26, 2002, at age 65. He was born on Jan. 3, 1937, in Luzerne, Pa., the son of John A. and Loretta Stiles Connolly. He was a graduate of Luzerne High School and a member of Holy Family Parish, Luzerne.
Connolly was president and treasurer of John Connolly and Sons, Luzerne, and a partner in Connolly Realty Co. He was a member of the Fox Ridge Country Club in West Pittston and the Elks Club in Luzerne.
He received the Carnegie Medal when he and his brother, John A. Connolly, Jr., saved the lives of five women after the Schulyer Manufacturing Co. explosion in Luzerne on March 13, 1961. He was lauded for this heroic act by Ralph A. Dungan, special assistant to President John F. Kennedy, Ralph A. Dungan; Pennsylvania state Rep. Fred J. Shupnik; the Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Commerce; and the Luzerne Borough Council. He appeared on the “To Tell The Truth” show to be recognized for his heroism.
Connolly was a member of the Luzerne Lions Club for 40 years and served the club in many capacities, including president in two separate terms and district zone chairman. He received a Distinguished Service Award for his 1964-65 term as president, Outstanding Service Award in 1971-72, a Lions Club Testimonial in 1980 for Kindness, Good Fellowship and Unselfish Service, and Lion of the Year Award for Service, Loyalty and Devotion to Lionism in 1992. He also received a Lions Club award for heroism when he saved a former Luzerne resident from drowning in Toby Creek in Luzerne County in 1964.
Connolly was Irishman of the Year in the 1994 Irish Open for the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick. He served as president for more than one term with the former Luzerne Mini-Football Organization.
(Edited from the Times Leader in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., May 28, 2002.)