Chris Connors’ obituary – written by family and friends while they drank, laughed, cried and listened to the soul records of Al Green – reads like the CliffsNotes to a wild adventure novel.

There’s a bikini-clad hospice nurse, a 40-hour stint in a life raft in the Caribbean, and tales of rugby scrums and foiled muggings. And there’s the belief that his death would be a blow to the makers of Absolut vodka and Simply Orange juice, the ingredients of his favorite cocktail.

“And it was all true. That’s what everyone’s asking us today, but we didn’t have to make anything up,” his daughter, Caitlin Connors, said Thursday from the family’s home in York. “He lived his life for an obituary like this. I’m sure he is so happy right now.”

Connors, 67, died Friday after spending the last year battling ALS, a degenerative nerve disease, and pancreatic cancer. His obituary was written with love, humor, whimsy and the fairly unbelievable episodes of Connors’ life.

Published Wednesday on Seacoastonline, the obituary began with “Irishman Dies from Stubbornness, Whiskey.” It became an internet sensation, getting picked up by online publications around the country, including the national news magazine “Inside Edition.”

Caitlin Connors said her father asked her to start writing his obituary a couple of months ago, with his help. But they never got around to it. So after his death, the obituary was written mostly by Caitlin Connors and her cousin, Liz Connors, with input from many others. Family and friends gathered at the Connors home, and stories flowed.

“I was the youngest brother, and when I was a kid someone stole my candy one Halloween. Chris got in the car and drove me all over the neighborhood looking for the kid (who stole the candy),” said Russ Connors, 57. “We never found the kid, but I thought it was so great my big brother would do that for me.”

ADVENTURES, THRILLS AND TAKING RISKS

Chris Connors was born in Quincy, Massachusetts, one of six children in his family. As a young man, he boxed and played rugby, and he was a lifelong lover of sailing. In the early 1970s he pooled his money with his older brother, Kevin, and two friends to buy a 66-foot boat and sail it all over the world. The boat sank in a storm in 1975 and the four spent 40 hours in a raft and a dingy, subsisting on Spam and a few other canned products before being rescued by the crew of a freighter.

When he and his sailing mates finally got home to Massachusetts, they went knocking on friends’ doors, waking people up.

“They were riding to everyone’s house in a Volkswagen Beetle, just celebrating being alive,” said longtime friend Colin Riley, 63, of Weymouth, Massachusetts. “Everything (Chris) did, skydiving, big-game hunting, whatever, was through the force of his personality.”

‘He lived his life for an obituary like this. I’m sure he is so happy right now.’

— Caitlin Connors

When he was in college, he worked as a subway toll-taker in Boston and once foiled a mugging attempt, friends said. He went to New York City and became a successful bond broker.

After his brother Kevin, a stock broker, was killed in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, he decided to move to York in southern Maine.

At one point he noticed that the town fire department didn’t have a rescue boat, so he gave them one.

After he retired, Connors went on a bucket-list spree. He trained with Navy SEALs, went big-game hunting in Russia and walked into a lion’s cage in Africa, his daughter said.

PLAYFUL THROUGHOUT HIS ILLNESS

As for the bikini-clad hospice nurse? Well, she’s a family friend who did help Connors through his last days. And she did pose in a bikini for a picture with him.

Connors’ active lifestyle was halted when he was diagnosed with ALS in October 2015. Then last July he was diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer.

Still, his daughter says, he had no regrets. In fact, she and her family decided to make one up for his obituary just so his life didn’t seem so incredible: that he wished he had eaten that convenience store rotisserie hot dog in 1986.

A memorial happy hour for Connors will be held Monday at the York Harbor Inn. Based on the response to his obituary, and the number of friends he had, hundreds of people are expected. Caitlin Connors is asking everyone to bring a story about her dad to share. She hopes to put them all together in a book.

“I only know maybe 10 percent of the stories about him, so I can’t wait to read all the others,” she said.

 


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