David Todd Connors
David Todd Connors
  • June 8, 1978 - August 13, 2017
  • Mechanicsville, Virginia

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CONNORS, David Todd, whose determination to live for his wife and young children fueled his long struggle with colorectal cancer, died of the disease August 13, at his Mechanicsville home. He was 39.

Mr. Connors was an account executive in the Richmond office of Apex Systems, an IT staffing firm where seven of his colleagues shaved their heads in solidarity when he lost his hair from chemotherapy. They posted photos to social media with the caption "Shave for Dave," as Mr. Connors was often called.

Throughout the six-and-a-half years of his illness, Mr. Connors inspired many people with his positive attitude. His wife, the former Kelly McGrew, fulfilled her dream of opening a fitness studio, Pulse Barre in Mechanicsville, thanks to his encouragement and support. He took his daughter, 8-year-old Adeline, on Geocaching treasure hunt adventures and played soccer with his son, 5-year-old Matthew. He enjoyed vacations in Mexico, the Bahamas and Jamaica, often rewards for high performance in his job.

At Apex, he began as a technical recruiter in 2001 and worked his way up to a principal position. He seldom called out sick as he underwent three lung surgeries and several rounds of chemotherapy and radiation and participated in a clinical trial at The Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. And he continued working until his body had totally deteriorated, driven both by a love of his job and a desire to provide for his family.

"He never had a pity party," Kelly Connors said. She remembers her husband leaving chemotherapy, barely able to walk but with earbuds in to take business calls. At Hopkins, "people would look at us and try to figure out, 'Who is the cancer patient?' because he looked so good," she said.

Mr. Connors was born in Houston, Texas, on June 8, 1978, the younger of two brothers. He spent most of his childhood in Poquoson, on the Virginia Peninsula, where he was captain of his high school basketball team. His father, Kevin Connors, was a petty officer in the Coast Guard, now retired. His mother, Vickie Connors, was a NASA research scientist; she is now retired from NASA and works as an assistant professor at Virginia Commonwealth University's Center for Environmental Studies. The family already suffered a tragedy when Dave Connors' brother, also Matthew Connors, died in 1996 at age 19.

Mr. Connors studied business administration at the College of Charleston and transferred to James Madison University, where he earned a bachelor's degree in finance. He fell in love with his wife in 2000 during their last semester at the university, when they lived in apartments across a courtyard from one another. The couple married in 2003.

Mr. Connors enjoyed fishing, hunting, and golf with his friends and family. He loved going to the beach, particularly on the Outer Banks.

On Jan. 10, 2011, he visited a gastroenterologist for what he thought was a minor medical issue when a tumor was detected. He struggled to regain his composure to deliver the news to his wife, in the waiting room with Adeline, then 2. He underwent chemotherapy, radiation and surgery and thought he was cured until a routine scan in November 2011 showed cancer had spread to his lungs. At that time, shortly before his son's birth, he was told he had two to three years to live.

"It has made us realize that nothing in life is guaranteed and that we should make an effort to cherish the time we have together," he told Richmond Family Magazine in a 2015 interview.

Mr. Connors was under hospice care in his final days. He promised his wife he would not die without saying goodbye, and on his last morning, he found a few moments of lucidity to grab her hand and pull her in for a kiss. He passed with her at his side.

Visitation will be held Thursday, August 17 from 5 to 8 p.m. at Woody Funeral Home-Atlee Chapel, 9271 Shady Grove Road in Mechanicsville, Va. 23116. The funeral will be at Shady Grove United Methodist Church, 8209 Shady Grove Road in Mechanicsville, at 11 a.m. Friday, August 18, a day before Adeline turns 9.

In addition to his wife and children, Mr. Connors is survived by his parents, of King and Queen County; maternal grandmother Margit Connelley of Jacksonville, Fla.; maternal grandfather Charles "Chuck" Connelley and step-grandmother "Nana" Maggie of Virginia Beach; paternal grandmother Barbara Connors of Toms River, N.J.; mother- and father-in-law Sandra and Michael McGrew of Beaverdam; and brother-in-law Brian McGrew of Orange, Conn. He also leaves behind two dogs and two cats.

Mr. Connors' friends have created a fundraising campaign to support his children's future. In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to https://www.gofundme.com/tributetodavidconnors.