McConnell, 65, has been a member of the Sullivan County Commission for more than a quarter of a century.
On Sunday, current and former members of county government were mourning the loss of McConnell, who they said will be remembered for a passionate dedication to his family and community, a sharp wit, a good-natured spirit and a willingness to take a stand for his beliefs.
“I’ve known him for 30 years,” County Commissioner Dennis Houser said. “When I look at Wayne, ... Wayne has always fought for the people in his district with every ounce in his heart. Whatever Wayne believed in, he stood up for — in spite of any criticism, because he took a stand for what he believed. Sometimes it was controversial. But he did it with dignity and treated everyone with respect. He always had the county employees at heart. And he was not afraid of work. If you asked Wayne for cooperation he would always work with you. Wayne was loyal. I had the highest respect for him.”
“My condolences to his wonderful family,” former Sullivan County Mayor Richard Venable said Sunday afternoon. “Wayne was a dear friend and colleague. When I was county mayor I depended on him, and even though we didn’t always agree, I trusted his opinion. I’ll miss him and his unique sense of humor.”
Born in Kingsport, McConnell was retired from Mead Corp., and before his recent illness he served with the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office.
McConnell was heavily involved in community service and civic activities, including Lynn Garden Community Caring, North Kingsport Community Center, North Kingsport Volunteer Fire Department, and longtime membership in the Optimist and Ruritan clubs.
McConnell is survived by his wife, Dena McConnell; son, Darius McConnell; daughter, Madonna Green; granddaughter, Heather Green; sister, Carolyn Bellamy of Church Hill; brother, Jim McConnell of Irving, Texas; and a host of nieces and nephews.
Wayne McConnell was the son of Dewey and Ora McConnell, who preceded him in death, as did brothers Ryland Frederick McConnell and Charles Daugherty McConnell.
Visitation is scheduled for 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday at Oak Hill Funeral Home.
Funeral services will be conducted at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the J. Wayne Hamilton Memorial Chapel of Oak Hill Funeral Home.
Gravesides services will be held at 11 a.m. Wednesday at Oak Hill Memorial Park.