On Monday, Sept. 23, 2019, Helen Regina Bodkin Connors, RN, PhD, Dr PS (Hon), ANEF, FAAN, a cherished sister, mother, grandmother and friend to many, passed away peacefully from metastatic cancer at the age of 76.
Helen, the youngest of nine children, was born on December 21st, 1942, to Charles and Jane Bodkin in Philadelphia, Penn. She was raised in Villanova, Penn., and for a brief time lived in Japan, attending Yokohama High School her sophomore year and part of her junior year, and then returned to Villanova, graduating high school from Holy Child Academy in 1960.
Helen received her Bachelor of Nursing degree from Villanova University and a Master of Nursing from Russell Sage College, and later her doctorate from the University of Kansas and an Honorary Doctorate in Public Service from Russell Sage.
In 1979, Helen joined the KU School of Nursing as director of the nurse practitioner program. In 2006, Helen was a pioneer in the educational innovation in the area of information technologies in which the KU Nursing School began offering an all-online PhD program. Helen’s efforts to bring the classroom to nurses and increase the number of nurses in rural areas garnered media attention in Time magazine and CNN's spotlight on the "Heroes of Medicine."
In 2014, Dr. Connors retired from the University of Kansas after 35 years of service as Associate Dean of Integrated Technologies at the KU School of Nursing and Executive Director of the KU Center for Health Informatics.
Helen was the first E. Jean M. Hill Endowed Professor at the School of Nursing and developed academic and business partnerships to support and expand the use of health information technologies, including relationships with the Kansas Health Institute, Kansas Department of Health and Environment, Cerner Corp, and HealthGate Corp. Because of her work in this area, she was appointed the first Executive Director of the University of Kansas Center for Health Informatics.
Active in professional organizations, Helen was a member of the American Academy of Nursing; the American Medical Informatics Association; the American Nurses Association; the National League for Nurses; and Sigma Theta Tau International.
Though well accomplished in her career, Helen was a dear friend to many and family was the center of her life. An avid tennis player, Helen enjoyed playing the game with friends in the Lakewood community of Lee’s Summit, Mo., where she was an active resident for more than 45 years. She also was a passionate basketball fan, always cheering for her beloved University of Kansas Jayhawks -- unless the Villanova Wildcats were playing. Her smile, laugh, and easy-going nature will be missed. Helen was never one to complain and always put others’ needs before her own.
Her life was a living example of her strong commitment to Catholicism, and Helen was a faithful parishioner of St. Mark’s Catholic Church in Independence, Mo., for more than 45 years.
Helen’s two sons, Michael and Timothy, who survive her, were her proudest accomplishment. She was a loving mother-in-law to Heather (Michael) and to Cadie (Tim) and was a cherished “Grandmom” or “G-Mom” to six grandchildren: Ryan (23); Emilie (20); Aidan (17); Colin (15); Elise (15); and Dylan (14). She is also survived by her sister Jane (Leo) Nentwig and brother Charles (Patricia) Bodkin; and many nieces and nephews.
Please join us in celebrating a life well lived on Friday, Oct. 4 at St. Mark’s Catholic Church, located at 3736 S. Lee's Summit Rd., Independence, MO 64055. Rosary begins at 9 am; a visitation will be held from 9:30 to 11 am; followed by a mass.
Helen will meet her final resting place at a later date near her brothers, sisters and parents who have preceded her in death at the Calvary Cemetery in West Conshohocken, Penn.