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The Strange Saga of Papa Pilgrim Part 4 Kathleen Connelly (Hale)
(Provided by Bernice Moore)

The Strange Saga of Papa Pilgrim

Part 4

Kathleen Connelly (Hale)

From..... "In History's Shadow"
by John Connally.1993 pages: 154-159.

In 1957 Kathleen was 16, beautiful, intelligent, and popular. She had
been somewhat head strong, bright, but never difficult, but towards the
end of the year her parents, Nellie and John Connally, had begun to
notice subtle changes.

She died in the living room of a tiny apartment she had rented alone
with a boy she had married and carrying his child.

Nellie and John Connally had found out about her possible condition
through a phone call from the school, and during a meeting with her
teacher who informed them, that she thought Kathleen was pregnant.

After returning home, they confronted Kathleen who assured them she had
a virus, nothing else---and was certainly not pregnant.

A few days later Nellie and John, who was working as legal counsel and
advisor to Sid Richardson and his nephew Perry Bass, and spending much
time traveling between Fort Worth and Washington.
Had barely arrived in Washington when they received a phone call, from
home that Kathleen was in hospital, they immediately flew back to Fort
Worth only to find that she had checked out. They were told she had been
admitted after hyperventilating, the records show a puzzling
description: she apparently had been rolling around over and over in the
grass. Her clothes were covered in burrs and grass stains, and they had
no information of where she was.

It soon became clear that she had been taken in by the family of Bobby
Hale, her boyfriend. They again confronted her as gently as they could,
with concern and not anger. That there was nothing that was so wrong
that they could not help her, and begged for her to tell them what was
wrong. They asked again if she was pregnant, but again she denied such.

After arriving at their home, John then called Bobby and asked him to
come to their home. Bobby was 18, a senior, a star of the football team.
His father was I.B Hale who had been a Hall of Fame linebacker at Texas
Christian Univ. in the 30s, and was chief of security at General
Dynamics in Fort Worth.

They spoke to the young people, separately, and both continued to deny
that anything was wrong. They confronted them together, and asked Bobby
if Kathleen was "in trouble" but they continued to get the same answer.
But it was certain something wasn't right. Nellie and John were
frustrated and close to loosing their patience and temper, and during
the next few weeks, they continued to talk to Kathleen without being
oppressive, or demanding, and they were perplexed.

They offered continually to help, to share the pressure she was under
,that was so apparent, but she would not share the secret she felt she
had to keep.

They had told her they did not want her going out at night , but she
did, and they awaited one night till she came home at midnight .By this
time John was furious, and more frustrated the longer this continued.

He was angry with her, and accused her and Bobby of lying to them, she
repeatedly again stated nothing was wrong. And then he slapped her, and
"Even as I did, I wished I hadn't. A thousand times since—maybe
more--I have wanted to call back my hand. She was silent and "the slap
echoed in my ear". She turned and went to her room.That was late in 58.

John had left for Washington on business, and he had told Kathleen that
he wanted to talk to her upon his return the next day. That night she
loaded her clothes into the family station wagon, while Nellie pleaded
and cajoled and raged and all to no avail. She drove off with her Mother
begging her to stay.

She had been an open, sweet child, a daughter to be envied by anyone who
raised a daughter, and watched her bloom. She had never before caused
them any problems or concerns. But suddenly a wall had gone up between
them and it could not be penetrated, she was almost defiant in her
continual statements that nothing was wrong. John and Nellie had no
control and no way to help.

Nellie called the police and gave them the license number; she had
called John and continued to wait for his plane to arrive, at 3am he did
so, as Bobby was missing as well.

They had dated almost from when they first met; they liked him as
everyone seemed to. They then learned they had eloped, driving to
Ardmore, Oklahoma, and married by a justice of the peace.

Their first information being from a letter received from Tallahassee,
Florida from "K.K" as they called her. They had taken a small apartment,
and Bobby had taken a job at a shipyard for seventy dollars a week.

I.B Hale and John then drove to the apartment, leaving their wives
behind with other children, to see if they could persuade them to come
home. They were living in two rooms which he described as grim.
Reconciliations are often more emotional than the disagreements that
caused them and they asked that they come back home and finish their
high school and suggested they live apart until, they did not want them
to divorce, and would help support them. Kathleen seem glad to see him,
nervous but with lots of hugs and kisses, and relieved.

They did not want them to be living in hardship but they indicated that
they wanted to stay in Tallahassee awhile longer, they would think about
coming home in the fall. John gave them several hundreds of dollars and
told them to find a better apartment.

She seemed determined to show all that they had not made a mistake, and
had taken a job in a five-and-dime store.
Before they left John spoke to the landlady who owned the boarding
house, and what she said did trouble him. She said she thought Kathleen
was afraid—but of what she did not know. That she had seen her slip
into the station wagon at night alone listening to the radio. That she
was not tuned into rock and roll, she would be listening to Oral Roberts
John thought her immature mind was in turmoil, perhaps from guilt that
what she had done was wrong ,that she had disappeared from her family,
but that she would make it turn out right…Both fathers spent the day
with them, and even checked on the shipyard where Bobby worked. Then
they pointed the car West and headed home.

They knew the truth now, Kathleen was expecting a child. They had
offered their help and protection and beyond that they didn't know what
to do or say. They had no high hopes for the marriage but did not want
it to fail. The landlady had told him there were spats, and young-lover
quarrels, which were expected.

The Connallys still had, at the time he wrote his book in 93, a sense of
disbelief at how quickly the events moved. Two or three weeks later, on
the morning of April 28,1958, John was sitting at his desk when he
received a phone call from the sheriff of Tallahassee, and speaking
somewhat clumsily he said, " Mr. Connally, your daughter has been shot
in the head."

John said, "My God, How bad is she?" He replied "Couldn't be worse. Half
her head was blown away". There was no good way, no easy way to deliver
such a message. John could not fault him for insensitivity. He hung up
the phone, feeling shock as almost a type of seizure.

He stumbled into Sid Richardson's office and told him about the call,
askimg if he could borrow one of the corporations planes so Nellie and
he could fly down. Sid immediately made the arrangements and called Ed
Armstrong and told him to prepare a DC-3.

Then he went home to tell Nellie, news that a man never expects to tell
his wife that their first born was dead. They held each other and wept.

Somewhere in that time it occurred to him that the sheriff had not said
Kathleen was dead. But he knew she was. They made the trip on auto-pilot
the passengers not the plane. Upon arrival they drove straight to the
funeral home, Bobby was there.

The story he told was jumbled and almost uncoherent. He said they had
quarreled, Kathleen had walked out, he had gone looking for her but did
not find her, and that when he had returned to the apartment she was
sitting in a chair with his loaded shotgun pointed at her head, with her
finger on the trigger.
At the coroner's inquest he said that she told him, "Bobby, I am sick in
my mind and I need help, I know now that no one can help me." He said he
tried to talk to her into putting the gun down, but she kept threatening
to use it. He grab for it, he said, and the gun went off." "

"Exactly what happened in that room, what was said, and what was done,
we will never be completely sure.""
A deputy in the sheriff's office told them there may have been a suicide
pact and Bobby back out. That was one of the stories, the speculations.
The inquest was held the next day but obviously no amount of testimony
could show clearly what had occurred. John was one of the witnesses and
asked to testify on Kathleen's state of mind, to him it was all
immaterial, as she was gone, and nothing could revive her, whatever
blame fault or innocence might have been attached to anyone else, was of
no consequence in his mind. It all passed like a bad dream. He only
wanted it to end, he was ridden with regret that the two of them could
not confide in them.
And he could not shake his doubts that his Kathleen, would never have
taken her own life, if her young husband had been more mature, kind and
considerate to her in the dark moments she must have experienced. He
kept recalling the landlady telling him she seemed afraid. She had left
no note, letter, no diary. Just a notice for a Doctors appointment for
the next day,

An autopsy was performed in the county where she died. She was flown
home, and the funeral was then held at First Methodist Church in Fort
Worth, she was laid to rest in the family plot a few days later.

They tried to put all those thoughts behind, and John had never spoken
to Bobby since. Over the years, Bobby did attempt to call him, but he
would never take his call. His daughter was gone and so was Bobby Hale,
as far as he was concerned.

"We watched her grow, heard her laugh, and cry, lived with her
anxieties, felt pride in her beauty and sweet nature. She was brunette,
at sixteen taller than her mother, active, and vivacious, able to dance
and sing and playact, all with ease". They never got over her death. As
Nellie said "We just went on".

Misfortunes followed. The Assassination of President Kennedy, at less
than an arms length, the bribery trial, the bankruptcy …All were
traumatic, devastating, and ate away at the soul.
"However sad oo grievous, none of these can equal the burden of sorrow
we will carry with us to the grave over the death of Kathleen. This is
the first time I have ever discussed it in any detail, and it will also
be the last."

John Connally.


Continued in Part 5
Wow. I had not ever seen this before. It was posted from DPF to facebook this morning. Surprised that there was also no reply to this sad and strange tale.
What was she afraid of? Did she in fact commit suicide? If so why? Did John Connelly have it investigated further, as perhaps a murder?
I am sure this had to be done but in 58 I am not certain if Bobby would receive the suspicion he would today.


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