William L. McConnell (“Bill”), a Vineyard resident of more than 40 years, died after an eight-week illness on July 21, 2023, while residing at Life Care Center of the North Shore in Lynn. He was the husband of Gayle D. Stiller of Oak Bluffs.
McConnell was born in Champaign-Urbana, Ill., on Dec. 11, 1941, the son of Golden and Margaret (Lyon) McConnell. He graduated from Peoria High School in 1960, and served in the Air Force for four years.
After his military service, Bill lived in the Rocky Mountains above Boulder, Colo., while working at the Ohm Banjo Co., and later at the Hanson Ski Boot Co. During his Boulder years, his house evolved into a gathering place for many emerging folk and blues musicians, among them Tim O’Brien and Ray Bonneville.
In 1982 Bill brought his carpentry skills to Martha’s Vineyard, where he helped to build an addition onto a friend’s house. Early on, he fell for the sea and sailboats — and then for a redhead named Gayle Stiller. With Justice of the Peace John Alley presiding, they were married on Kuffies Point, overlooking Lake Tashmoo, on June 11, 1983. A few years later, the couple built their house on Holmes Hole Road in Oak Bluffs, where Bill eventually established M.V. Machine in the lower level of their home. The business later became WLM Models and Patterns.
Bill listened avidly to the folk music programs on Boston radio station WUMB. And despite his Midwestern roots, he evolved into a devoted follower of all of the Boston sports teams, especially the Red Sox. He took particular pleasure in their march to the World Series in 2004.
In addition to his wife, Bill leaves a sister, Barb McConnell of Peoria; a son, Steve McConnell of Caldwell, Idaho; a daughter, Kim Horton of Princeton, Ill.; and two grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
He was predeceased by his parents; his stepfather, Frank Mayne; and his brother, John McConnell of Peoria.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that friends and acquaintances send contributions in Bill’s memory to WUMB, via U.S. mail to University of Massachusetts at Boston, 100 Morrissey Boulevard, Boston, MA 02125, or online at wumb.org/support-wumb; or to the Animal Shelter of Martha’s Vineyard, via U.S. mail to P.O. Box 1829, Edgartown, MA 02539, or online at animalshelterofmv.org/donate.
There will be a private memorial service at a later date.