John W. McConnell

Birth Name John W. McConnell [1] [2]
Gramps ID I058
Gender male
Age at Death 72 years, 6 months, 16 days


Event Date Place Description Notes Sources
Birth 23 January 1911 La Crosse, La Crosse, Wisconsin Birth of John W. McConnell

Graduation calculated about 1933   University of Chicago

Occupation estimated from 1933 to 1941   Swann Lorish & Casper

Military Service estimated from 1941 to 1946   United States Army

Occupation from 1946 to 1947   Office of Strategic Services (OSS)

Occupation from 1947 to 1973   Central Intelligence Agency

Death 8 August 1983 Illinois Death of John W. McConnell



Father John E. McConnell [I0997]
Mother Eleanor D. Swain [I1002]
  1. Josephine McConnell [I1021]
  2. Phillip Swain McConnell [I1022]
  3. Frances L. McConnell [I1023]


Married Wife Mary Catherine Beattie [I057]
Event Date Place Description Notes Sources
Marriage 8 March 1943 Hagerstown, Maryland Marriage of McConnell, John W. and Beattie, Mary Catherine




From interview with Norm Robertson II, 11 May 2010:

When John was about 14, he and his mother had a big open touring car. His mother always wanted him to drive. His mother always made chicken on Sundays and he got to where he hated chicken and would not eat any foul, even turkey on Thanksgiving.

His mother took him to Europe in about 1916 or 1917. His mother bought him a set of hand painted lead soldiers. (Norm Robertson II still has them.)

He graduated from University of Chicago. Member of Phi Psi fraternity.

After graduating from U of C. He got a job with Swann Lorish & Casper. They were building inspectors.

He met Norm and Mary Robertson while working at Swann Lorish & Casper since they all were part of the same social (drinking) crowd. John & Mary had an affair. John's family didn't approve so one of his uncles came up with $25,000 (during the depression) which he gave to John; John was supposed to take a trip around the world and forget about Mary. John made the trip but didn't forget about Mary.

Mary formally separated from Norm in May 1937.

In 1940 John bought a Mercury convertible. Norm II got to drive it once and ran it into a ditch because he tried to steer it like a bike.

John got drafted in 1941 or so and had to sell the Mercury. The Army sent him to OTC and he became a Lieutenent. John was assigned to intelligence, initially in G-2 (American intelligence). He worked his way up to Major or Colonel and got stationed in Washington.

Mary had come to Washington and was the apartment rental manager at the Mayflower Hotel because John had proposed. They got married in Hagerstown, the local marriage mill. Driving back from the wedding, John ran the (borrowed) car off the road and turned it over in a ditch, damaging Mary's left wrist.

In 1946, John was about to leave the Army and had a friend who was in OSS, probably "Squirrel" Ashcraft. Squirrel encouraged John to join OSS.

Harry Truman created the CIA in 1947 and John moved from OSS to CIA. He was sent to New York City to organize the New York office.

John & Mary stayed in NYC until the winter of 1950. The CIA then sent John to Chicago to organize the Chicago office. They lived at 1440 N. Lake Shore Drive. While in Chicago, they bought one of the original air conditioners; it probably weighted 150 lbs. They had a table custom built with casters so that they could wheel it from the living room into the bedroom.

The CIA recalled John to Washington in the summer of 1956. John & Mary lived at 1121 Arlington Blvd. Then moved to River House, 1400 S. Joyce St., Arlington, VA, when it was built, about 1962 or 1963.

John retired from the CIA when he was 61 years old. Normally CIA members had to retire at age 60 but he was doing something and they gave him another year to finish it up. John earned the Intelligence Merit Medal when he retired from the CIA.

In the early part of his career, he would visit businessmen who did business behind the iron curtain. He didn't do any kind of secret or spy work. He would ask them what they knew about dealing with the communists.

John & Mary travelled enough on the USS Independence that they got pretty well known on it. When it was retired, they started travelling on the Queen Elizabeth II.


Type Value Notes Sources
Social Security Number 350-10-2479


Source References

  1. Interviews with Norm Robertson II [S0400]
  2. Interview with Norm Robertson II, 11 May 2010 [S0402]
  3. Aaron Kneavel’s tree [S0393]
  4. John W. McConnell’s CIA medal [S0401]
  5. Social Security Death Index for John W. McConnell [S0403]


  1. John E. McConnell
    1. Eleanor D. Swain
      1. Josephine McConnell
      2. Phillip Swain McConnell
      3. Frances L. McConnell
      4. John W. McConnell
        1. Mary Catherine Beattie