Ohio University mourns the death of Ann Lee Hancock Konneker
One of Ohio University’s most dedicated supporters, Ann Lee Hancock Konneker, passed away on July 14 in St. Louis, Missouri, at the age of 95.
Born and raised in Olean, New York, Ann Lee Hancock, HON ‘80, graduated from Ohio State University in 1945 before marrying OHIO alumnus Wilfred Konneker, BS ‘43, MS ‘47, HON ‘80, in 1946. The couple would go on to become two of Ohio University’s most visionary and impactful benefactors.
“Ann Lee Konneker was an incredible person and a cherished member of the Ohio University community,” OHIO President M. Duane Nellis said. “The wisdom, kindness, and generosity shown by Ann Lee and Wilfred Konneker will have a lasting impact on the students and communities we serve.”
Ann Lee and Wilfred Konneker founded the Nuclear Consultants Corporation in St. Louis, which later merged with Mallinckrodt, Inc. Wilfred also founded or co-founded six additional high-tech start-up companies throughout his career.
While experiencing deserved success in business, the Konnekers never forgot Ohio University.
In 1980, the couple made a generous gift to the University to purchase the building now known as Konneker Alumni Center, the renovation of which became a personal passion for Ann Lee. Through her efforts, the building was restored to its early 1900s Greek Revival Design and remains one of the Athens Campus’ most iconic buildings today.
The Cutler Scholars Program, which was founded with the leadership of the Konnekers and OHIO President Emeritus Charles J. Ping in 1995 through the establishment of the Konneker-Ping Fund, continues to emphasize leadership potential and individual obligation to respond to the human condition. Ohio University’s premier merit scholarship program, Cutler Scholars, are driven to explore how they can use their skills and interests to make a positive impact in their communities.
The Konnekers supported Cutler Scholars from both Wilfred’s high school in Greenfield, Ohio, and Ann Lee’s Olean High School in New York, taking pride in these students’ accomplishments and forming personal connections with many of the recipients.
“The Konnekers’ generosity has been such a blessing on my life and the life of many others,” said Sophia Hendrix, BA ‘17, BSCSD ‘17, an Ann Lee Hancock Konneker Cutler Scholar. “I go through each day knowing that the experiences and opportunities I have been given are truly a gift. With every place I go and every person I meet, I bring the Konnekers with me.”
The Konnekers’ generosity touched many other areas of OHIO as well.
The Konneker Research Laboratories, located on The Ridges, opened and was dedicated in 1996 in recognition of Will Konneker’s leadership and service to the University. The building is home to the Edison Biotechnology Institute (EBI), which fosters basic discovery research and the development of new technology that can be commercialized to create companies, jobs, and investment in Ohio.
A gift from the Konnekers to The Ohio University Foundation created the Konneker Fund for Learning and Discovery, a quasi-endowment dedicated to supporting innovative research, graduate education, and undergraduate learning initiatives at the university.
In 2012, the Foundation established the Konneker Medal for Commercialization and Entrepreneurship to recognize current and former faculty or students who have demonstrated excellence in innovation, invention, commercialization, and entrepreneurship.
A complete obituary was published in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Due to COVID restrictions, there will not be a public celebration of her life at this time.