James Connolly

James R. Connolly

Tuesday, July 11th, 1944 - Monday, September 28th, 2020
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SELKIRK James R. “Coach” Connolly, 76, of Fairlawn Drive, died suddenly on Monday, September 28, 2020 while toiling in his backyard. Born in Albany, “Coach” was the son of the late Francis and Beatrice Connolly and brother of Rev. John F. Connolly. He graduated in 1962 from the Vincentian Institute. He attended Siena College and graduated in 1967. He was a proud alum of Siena and a season ticket holder for Siena basketball.

Coach was a kind, charismatic teacher and track coach who left an indelible mark on generations of students and athletes at Cardinal McCloskey High School and Scotia-Glenville High School. He retired from Scotia as the Chair of the Business Department in 2006. Although he left the classroom after 40 years, he remained a dedicated track coach. After one year of retirement, he resumed coaching, this time, at Bethlehem Central High School.

Coach was a lifelong suffering fan of the Brooklyn and then Los Angeles Dodgers. He has been waiting for “Next Year” for over 30 years so it is both tragic and ironic that he passed away a month before the Dodgers win the World Series.

Coach officiated at the national level for track and field including the Olympic Trials. He was elected to the Cardinal McCloskey Bishop Maginn High School Alumni Association Sports Hall of Fame and the Scotia Glenville High School Athletic Hall of Fame.

Coach was an exceptional husband and father. He and his wife, Karyn Perlman Connolly, celebrated 51 years of marriage in June. They loved travelling and spending their winters on the beach in St. Thomas, V.I.

Coach loved watching and talking sports with his son and best friend Stephen Connolly and sons-in-law, Gordy Haupt and Joseph Balsamo.

He cherished the time he spent with his daughters Meghan Connolly Haupt and Bekah Balsamo who both moved back to the area to spend time with him in recent years. He was adored by his daughter-in-law, Mollie Owens Connolly and his grandkids Jameson, Sawyer, Porter, Tatum, Baron and Ryan.

A Memorial Mass will be offered at 9:30 AM Saturday at St. Vincent de Paul Church, 900 Madison Avenue, Albany. Due to COVID-19 guidelines, masks are required and seating is limited and on a first come basis. In support of social distancing, please visit to register your visitation in person.

Relatives and friends are invited to raise a glass to Coach at the Bethlehem Town Park at 261 Elm Avenue, Delmar on Saturday, 12:00 - 3:00 PM. COVID guidelines will be in place.

In lieu of flowers, contributions to a scholarship in the name of James Connolly can be sent via Venmo to @CoachConnollyScholarship. An annual award will be given to a Bethlehem track athlete with the grit and ethic Jim inspired in so many.
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Service Details

  • Service

    Saturday, October 3rd, 2020 | 9:30am
    Saturday, October 3rd, 2020 9:30am
    St. Vicent de Paul Church
    900 Madison Ave.
    ALBANY, NY 12208
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email
  • Reception

    Bethlehem Town Park
    261 Elm Ave.
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email
    Relatives and friends are invited to raise a glass to Coach at the Elm Avenue Town Town Park, 261 Elm Ave., Delmar on Saturday from 12:00-3:00 pm. COVID guidelines will be in place.


  • Crucifix
  • Major League Baseball
  • Roman Catholic Church


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Thomas Hayes.

Posted at 01:32pm
Jim was a great coach and a fine human being . We coached against each other for 10 years and had a great relationship . He and I were great friends with Don Bassett . Jim always had his athlete’s ready to compete and they loved him . I respected him more than any coach I competed against . I will remember him often and keep him in my prayers . Rest In Peace Jim and God Bless . Tom Hayes ., former coach at Shaker High School...........

Jeanette Kavanaugh

Posted at 07:43pm
Karyn, I am so sorry for your loss. I didn't know your husband, but I know you and he must have been wonderful for you to be so in love with him for so many years. You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers. Love, Jeanette Kavanaugh

Don Bassett

Posted at 07:04pm
Jim was a special friend. I have many memories.
His wedding in Niagara Falls.
A cookout at my house.
Teaching him the triple jump
Speaking every year in his classroom after my retirement.
Our many phone calls discussing track.
Speaking with him at meets.
Jim is the only person I knew that always had a smile on his face.
Jim's enthusiasm motivated his students and athletes to do their best.
How much he was loved and respected by his students and athletes.

I will miss you my friend. You were a very special person. RIP

Bill Davis

Posted at 01:42pm
Coach was an inspiration to watch working with his athletes. Positive and encouraging allowing room (and time) for each athlete’s growth. While my kids were not “field” event athletes, Coach always took note of the “track” events and had a positive word to share with all. I will miss his energy and positive words at field and track meets. Bill Davis

Kevin Donnelly

Posted at 07:57am
Coach Connolly was a great guy. I'm honored to have been coached by him At McCloskey Track in 70'-73'1 He was an extremely caring individual and patient guy, very encouraging, he will definitely be missed on this earth! As is often said, go easy bro'! RIP Coach!!!

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