Acclaimed physician, talented entertainer and noted philantropist Dr. Jack McConnell has died. Dr. Jack is best known to our readers as Phish keyboardist Page McConnell’s father. An announcement of McConnell’s death was made on Phish.com.
The elder McConnell “worked at McNeil Laboratories and helped to develop Tylenol and the MRI. He’s also the founder of Volunteers in Medicine, the only national nonprofit dedicated to building a network of sustainable, free, primary health care clinics for the uninsured in local communities,” as per a piece posted by the Lockn’ Festival. Dr. Jack opened Volunteers In Medicine’s Hilton Head clinic in 1993. As per Hilton Head Monthly, McConnell “led a team of 55 retired physicians, 68 retired nurses and chiropractors, social workers and dental assistants — along with a team of more than 100 lay volunteers — to help treat a community where one in three citizens was without health care.” In the 25 years since, over 100 U.S. clinics have opened using the blueprint developed in Hilton Head.
While Page was born in Philadelphia in 1963, the McConnells moved to Basking Ridge, New Jersey when the youngster was six. Dr. Jack and his wife Mary Ellen hosted Phish at their Hilton Head, South Carolina home on a number of occasions during the quartet’s early days. Page’s parents moved to Hilton Head in the late 1980s.
On July 28, 1993 Dr. Jack McConnell sat-in with Phish on a piano duet and “Bill Bailey, Won’t You Please Come Home?” at the Grady Cole Center in Charlotte. Page’s dad wound up guesting with Phish a total of six additional times. At five of those concerts, Dr. Jack showed off his vocal and tap dancing stylings on “Bill Bailey, Won’t You Please Come Home?” His most recent appearance took place at nTelos Pavilion in Portsmouth, Virginia on Father’s Day 2011. Dr. Jack, along with fellow Phish Fathers Ernie Anastasio, Leonard Fishman and Robert Gordon contributed to the “Harpua” opener.
Dr. Jack McConnell was always willing to chat about his son, Phish and his historic career with fans who showed interest. In lieu of flowers, fans are asked to contribute to Volunteers In Medicine.