Robert James Connolly passed away peacefully with his loving wife Cheryl by his side in Bishop, California on the evening of November 23, 2021, after a long and courageous battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 67.
Robert was born in Fullerton, California on March 25, 1954, to Martin L. “Smiley” Connolly and Vivian Irene “Coss” Connolly (Culp). The family—Coss, Smiley, older brother Mike, and Robert—lived in Buena Park until 1963, when Coss and Smiley made the decision to raise their sons in the beautiful Owens Valley.
Robert was a 1972 graduate of Bishop Union High School, where he played baseball and football. In those years, he was often seen in his green and white Barracuda listening to 8-tracks or leading the way to various party spots around the valley. Soon after graduation Robert joined the family business, Bishop Plumbing, and went to work with Smiley and Mike. He was married to Lori Boardman in 1974 and they had three children together.
In 1984 Robert moved to Southern California. He spent a decade honing his craft as a plumber in Orange and San Bernardino Counties before returning to the Owens Valley in 1995. Prior to his retirement, Robert continued plumbing with his brother in Bishop, spent a few years working in maintenance for Harrah’s in Nevada, and then finished off his career at Bishop Unified School District. Throughout his professional life, Robert was known for his high level of expertise and service. He had a soft spot for his customers—he loved helping people out of a jam.
In 2012, Robert married Cheryl Hogan of Bishop and they spent twelve wonderful years together. In the last decade of his life, Robert loved traveling the Owens Valley with Cheryl. Together they went quad riding, found hidden fishing spots, and explored the landscape. They dove into hot springs, danced to The Eagles, and enjoyed life.
Robert was a man of many interests. He loved true crime stories, baseball, and taking pictures of local wildlife. He had a passion for constantly trying out new recipes on the grill and baking sweets. Music moved him deeply, and if you were around him long, you’d hear a mix of 70’s rock, opera ballads, and Christian worship songs. He could be complex. He was prone to quiet spells, but he was the last to leave a party. He was hardest on himself but his heart for others was boundless. His children will never wonder whether he loved them. They saw him make sacrifices. He took them to Angels games, the drive-in, and church. He sat in the bleachers at Wednesday football practice. In good years and bad years, he pulled them close and said, “I love you,” and his blue eyes never lied.
Robert left a mark on those who knew him. His laugh, his humor, and his sincerity will be remembered by his family and friends as long as we’re around. Robert is survived by his beloved wife Cheryl, of Bishop; son Ryan Connolly and his wife Phan, of Escondido; son Chris Connolly and his wife Kristin, of Lone Pine; daughter Rachel Connolly of Redding; stepson Jay Massey, of Decatur, IL; twelve grandchildren; two great-grandchildren; father Martin L. “Smiley” Connolly, of Bishop; and brother Mike Connolly and his wife, Debbe, of Bishop. He was preceded in death by his mother, Coss, in 2019. Robert held dear many nieces, nephews, cousins, and other family and friends who are too numerous to name here. We all love you, Robert, forever.
A graveside service will be held at 12 noon on Saturday, December 11, 2021, at East Line Street Cemetery in Bishop, followed by a reception at the Bishop Elks Lodge (#1603) at 151 E Line St, Bishop, CA 93514 from 1:00 – 3:00 PM. All family and friends are welcome at either the service or the reception.