Dave McConnell was the head usher for the Portland Sea Dogs for 25 years. In this 2013 photo, he listens to the national anthem before a game. John Ewing/Staff Photographer

David McConnell, a retired headmaster at Kennebunk High School who later worked for the Portland Sea Dogs and Washington Nationals baseball organizations for many years, died June 7. He was 83.

Mr. McConnell served as director of game day operations and head of ushers for the Portland Sea Dogs for 25 years. He was also director of stadium security and head of ushers for the Washington Nationals at their spring training facility in Viera, Fla., for 16 years.

He was also a longtime executive director of the Kennebunk Beach Improvement Association.

He was remembered last week as a dedicated educator.

Mr. McConnell, a former standout student and athlete at Kennebunk High School, fulfilled his dream of returning to his alma mater as headmaster in 1990 and retired in 2001. During his tenure, he was worked to improve the facilities and quality of education for Kennebunk students. In 1991, the school was recognized with a National School of Excellence Award.

His son, James McConnell, of West Simsbury, Conn., said Wednesday it was his father’s lifelong dream to go back to his alma mater.


“He used to say it’s the responsibility of every generation to leave whatever it is in a better place,” his son recalled. “It’s kind of how he looked at everything he did. He wasn’t a guy that did a lot of talking. He was a guy that took action.”

Joe Foster, retired teacher at Kennebunk High School, said Wednesday that Mr. McConnell was a kind and decent person who made an impression on people. Foster said old timers used to call him “Mus,” short for muscles. He said McConnell loved talking about Kennebunk as it was in the late 1940s and 1950s.

“Dave McConnell was a true son of Kennebunk,” Foster said. “He loved this community. Any old timer who walked into the high school would ask for Mus. He gloried in those days, gloried in his home, and gloried in this town. Someone once said, ‘He bleeds blue and white,’ the school colors. He was such a good guy. It’s a true loss that he’s gone.”

Mr. McConnell served as executive director of the Kennebunk Beach Improvement Association from 1974 to 2006. He was instrumental in developing educational and enrichment programs in swimming, sailing, boating, tennis, golf, marine science, and arts and crafts. He started a scholarship fund for kids in Kennebunk who can’t afford to attend association programs.

“There were times when the fund was a little light and he would take it out of his own pocket and sponsor somebody,” his son said. “He loved interacting with the kids. He loved to see kids come in and start to learn how to swim when they are 7 or 8 years old and come every summer. All of a sudden, they are 14 or 15 years old and he is looking for a counselor in training. My father wrote hundreds of recommendations for kids to get into school based on their experience at KBIA. It was all part of driving education for youth.”

In 1994, Mr. McConnell joined the Portland Sea Dogs as director of game day operations and head of ushers. His son spoke with pride about his father’s passion for professional baseball and his contributions to the organization. He said his father was friends with many AA players and managers.


“He just loved being at Portland,” his son said. “Their attendance is really attributed to the experience they got at the ballpark. The baseball is good, but it’s the experience of your kids seeing their first game … making sure kids got foul balls. If it was a kid’s first time at the ballpark, he would say, ‘I know four seats down front.’ He would make it special for them. He would bring them down there. He did that all the time. He loved being in there and serving people.”

In 2001, Mr. McConnell joined the Washington Nationals as director of stadium security and head of ushers at their spring training facility in Viera, FL. He held the position for 16 years. His friends joked that it took him 40 years to finally make it to Major League Baseball, his son said.

He was the loving husband of Carolyn McConnell for 63 years. The couple raised four children and lived in Kennebunk.

His son said his parents had a good life together. He reflected on their early years and the lessons his father instilled in them.

“He was an excellent father,” he said. “He really carried over the importance of sports as great preparation for life. The importance of education and being a student athlete and making sure you have a balance of both. I played basketball for him. I was caption of one of his teams. He was my principal as well. He got to see my grades before me. He set an example for all of us that you got to lead and be a good teammate and don’t quit. We all grew up around leadership … working hard at whatever you do. Never give up.”

Mr. McConnell’s health declined over the past year. His son said he will miss his father’s stories and jokes.

“He had a story about everyone,” his son said. “He won the unofficial award from the Webhannet Golf Club for the longest time in a parking lot telling jokes and stories in club history. You couldn’t shut him up. Seeing him with a group of guys telling stories and having those guys splitting their guts laughing over whatever it is. He was quite a story teller.”

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